Drivers using their mobile phones will be the focus of new government research to confront the alarming rise in deaths on Australia’s roads.
In a speech at the United Nations Global Road Safety Week launch on Monday, Transport Minister Darren Chester acknowledged the 1240 fatalities recorded in the year ending March 2017.
The minister said road safety had become a priority “at the highest levels of global politics”, adding that the government’s immediate goal is to reduce the annual number of deaths and serious injuries in Australia by at least 30 per cent by 2020.
“Safety is a fundamental right and an essential condition for the sustainable development of society,” Mr Chester said.
He said despite the difficulty in tracking the number of people using their phones on the road, research, including technological advances, had already been commissioned to help drivers avoid the temptation.
“Just about every driver in Australia has a mobile phone and we have all seen people texting or checking their phones in the car,” Mr Chester said.
“It is a hard one to properly research because people aren’t necessarily going to admit they were using their phone if they run off the road.”
The research will involve state and territory governments as well as telecommunications companies.
The government will conduct separate research into drug driving as well as an inquiry into the National Roads Safety Strategy.