This is no joke: humour could keep young drivers

Alyssa Minenko knows the dangers of texting while driving and never uses her phone whilst on the move.
Alyssa Minenko knows the dangers of texting while driving and never uses her phone whilst on the move. Luka Kauzlaric

WE ALL know road safety is no laughing matter, but a little fun might be all it takes to keep fingers off our phones when they should be on steering wheels.

Road safety expert Cassandra Gauld believes light-hearted advertisements could be the key to turning the tide on smartphone-using road users.

The researcher from QUT Centre for Accident Research &

Road Safety - Queensland said fun messages were a real alternative to graphic and fear-based advertisements when it comes to reducing the number of people who use phones while driving.

Ms Gauld is looking for Queensland drivers aged 17 to 25 to take part in an online survey that will evaluate the effectiveness of ads aimed at young road users.

People in this age group are four times more likely to text and drive, and they are twice as likely to make phone calls.

Ms Gauld said young people also used social media apps when they should be concentrating on the road.

"Young drivers are inexperienced, yet more likely to use smartphone social technology than older drivers, and therefore the risk of severe injury is heightened," she said.

"When drivers are distracted using their smartphones, they are more at risk of lane wandering, increased reaction time, missing traffic signals and reduced situational awareness.

"Enforcement and public education are two countermeasures that, in combination, have been shown to reduce other risky road user behaviours such as drink-driving and speeding."

Ms Gauld said the statewide survey would help form an understanding of the types of messages that could stop young people "monitoring, reading or responding to their smartphones while driving".

"A follow-up survey a week later will then ask participants how they have or haven't used their smartphones and how likely they were to in the future," she said.


Topics:  road safety

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