– By Marc Sibbald –
How can can it be? Surely everyone has got the message now? Touching your phone while driving is illegal; and its bloody dangerous!
But the NSW taxpayer is reaping the benefits of $14 million each year in fines from drivers caught using their mobile phone illegally according to the sources of revenue available from the NSW Government website. According to the data, an average of 3,697 drivers were caught each month between July and December 2017 and fines totalling $7,359,085 were issued. And this is just one state!
The interesting thing from the data is where the fines were issued. The most fines were issued by the CBD and Parramatta motor cycle cops. These two Local Area Commands were responsible for 20% of the fines in this period. Based on population this makes sense; though its also where people are driving for work purposes in company or grey fleet vehicles.
In NSW the average vehicle age is 9.6 years. So assuming the drivers being caught on their mobile are driving vehicles built from 2000 to 2007 (because to get an average of 9.6 there’s a lot of older vehicles on the road) the driver would need to invest in an aftermarket Bluetooth device. And most people wouldn’t see the benefit for the occasional call (or they would convince themselves that they don’t touch their phone in the car).
It wasn’t until the Holden VE Commodore Series II in 2009 (top selling car that year) that most fleets had Bluetooth as a standard feature. So were Fleet Managers ticking the box and paying for the option before this?
With more than 50% of all new cars sold each year going into business, government or rental; Fleet Managers have a responsibility to the future used car buyer and the other drivers on the road. As informed purchasers with an obligation to provide a safe workplace for employees all the safety options should be ticked even if it means purchasing a higher specification model. The cars in today’s fleets will be the used cars of tomorrow.
In 2015 Hyundai launched the Tucson with Apple Car Play which improves the connection between your phone and the car. And since then most manufacturer’s have followed with new model releases. You could say that Car Play increases the ability for a driver to be distracted but it also reduces the anxiety of not being connected. For iPhone users its a great interface that allows you to legally use the functionality of your phone while driving (the Android version works the same way).
So while the fines being issued in NSW have doubled since the 2011, hopefully there will be a decline once Bluetooth and other technologies find their way into the used car market thanks to the smart purchasing decisions from Fleet Managers.