Emergency service workers are tired of pulling people from car wrecks with mobile phones embedded in their bodies, WA Acting Premier Liza Harvey says.
“This is the reality of people using mobile phones while they are driving,” Ms Harvey said.
“I look at that sort of behaviour and hear about motorcyclists driving at excess speed, drunk drivers, people not wearing seatbelts, people using their phones, even not managing fatigue appropriately and they are losing their lives.”
According to WA Police, traffic officers frequently conduct operations that target mobile phone users across Perth, and it is common for them to fine up to 50 motorists in a two-and-a-half-hour period.
There have been four deaths on WA roads just four days into 2017 — it comes on the back of a six-year road toll high of 193 fatalities last year.
On Wednesday a 39-year-old man was charged with dangerous driving causing the death of a 23-year-old man was killed in a crash in Heathridge on Tuesday.
While it is too early to link any of the fatalities to mobile phone use, Ms Harvey said all of the fatalities were preventable.
“Every single road fatality this year, could have been prevented if people stick to the rules,” Ms Harvey said.
Ms Harvey said she held her breath, hoping that [she] “was not going to be the first on the scene for a head-on collision with kids involved,” after she was overtaken by a reckless driver.
“I’ve just driven down to Denmark, on the way back, on the Albany Highway at the turnoff to Cranbrook I was overtaken travelling at 110 kilometres per hour,” Ms Harvey said.
“I was overtaken by a Ford Forrester, double white lines, that overtook me with two toddler bikes on the back.
“I don’t know what is wrong with people when they’re making decisions like that.
“What we need though is drivers to take responsibility.”
Drivers ‘must change habits’ or more will die
Road safety commissioner Kim Papalia said the picture painted by the emergency service worker was “a shocking image … but a reality”.
“We have to change what has become habit in our community, an accepted habit,” Mr Papalia said.
“It’s just not acceptable, it [using phones] can wait.
“There’s no message that will be as important as your life or the life of other road users.”
Mr Papalia said it was hard to determine how many fatalities could be attributed to mobile phone use but it was a “significant factor”.
“What we do know is mobile phone use in vehicles is rising … it is more prevalent across the state,” Mr Papalia said.
“We need to break that habit, and we need to reinforce it through education and enforcement.”