VTA launches driver distraction campaign

By: Jason Whittaker

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has launched a new safety campaign aimed at reducing a rate of heavy vehicle accidents. Backed

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has launched a new safety campaign aimed at reducing a rate of heavy vehicle accidents.

Backed by Minister for Roads and Ports Tim Pallas, the VTA unveiled its Distracted Drivers are Dangerous Driver which comprises a safety pack developed by the Transport Industry Safety Group.

VTA Chief Executive Phil Lovel says the campaign aims to reduce distraction-related crashes by having companies introducing an anti-distraction policy to discourage drivers from using phones or other devices while driving.

"This launch is clearly leading edge, we want to encourage our industry [and] companies to adopt safe systems of work and we expect them to take action to minimise the risks," Lovel says.

The VTA wants companies to enforce systems that require a driver to park their truck before communicating as well having drivers turn off their phones or other communication or electronic devices while driving.

"We have a responsibility to show the professional behaviour on the roads," Lovel says.

The VTA says the campaign came in response to findings that show driver distraction is a major cause of crashes, using mobile phone while driving increases the risk of a crash by four times, while other distractions, such as talking to passengers, eating or reaching for an object also dramatically increase the risk of a crash.

Fuel company Shell already has a policy in place that bans the use of mobile phones while driving regardless of whether a hands-free kit is fitted to the vehicle. Shell tankers have an operating system which does not allow the phone to work unless the park brake is engaged.

Pallas has welcomed the initiative, which he says will go towards reducing the number of heavy vehicle accidents.

"The Distraction Safety Pack demonstrates the strong commitment from the transport industry to work with the Government and the community to reduce the number of crashes and improve safety on our roads," he says.

But while most of the focus on the campaign was on the trucking industry, Lovel says there is no reason as to why it cannot be expanded to cover all road users. He says the VTA will encourage other industries and individuals to adopt its anti-distraction policies.

The Safety Pack includes several distraction fact sheets, a company policy on distraction, a sticker, poster and a DVD.

The Safety Pack can be obtained from the VTA Office or VicRoads Bookshop. Those interested in obtaining a copy can phone 03 9854 2782.

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