Emergency services urge drivers to turn off their phones when driving

With all the handy new gadgets looming in modern cars, it’s easy to fall victim to distraction while driving.

South Australian Ambulance Service regional team leader Leon Cutting said the best way to ensure you arrive safely is to switch off all possible distractions.

South Australian Ambulance Service regional team leader Leon Cutting said the best way to ensure you arrive safely is to switch off all possible distractions.

But by eliminating these and any potential distractions, drivers could save their own lives – and others.

South Australian Ambulance Service regional team leader Leon Cutting said the best way to arrive safely was by planning ahead and not relying on ‘gadgets’ while in the car.

“Sometimes I think people are better off turning their phones off when they’re driving ... because they’re just too much of a distraction,” Mr Cutting said.

“Pull over and do it on the side of the road, don’t do it when you’re actually driving.”

Mr Cutting’s 40 years’ experience with the emergency services as a paramedic has led him to attend accident scenes which have claimed the lives of children – as well as people he has known personally.

“The hardest part is going out (to calls with) children … that's the toughest part of the job,” he said.

“Jobs involving kids are the ones that impact you.”

Working as part of a small community, Mr Cutting said once you got to know the people of a town, it was all too often these same people you ended up treating on the side of the road.

“You don’t know what you’re going to, you don’t know what’s going to be around the corner,” he said.

But it was not just mobile phones drivers were getting distracted by.

Identifying and eliminating distractions was a great way to be proactive, making sure passengers arrived safety.

GPS, radio and iPod functionality, along with touch screens and other entertainment inclusions in modern cars could pose a danger for easily distracted drivers.

Calling hands free or having used vocal assistances such as Siri to text while driving may have created unnecessary hazards, Mr Cutting said.

“It’s something that seems to be causing people inattention these days, and something that’s creeping in more and more,” he said.

“That text, or that phone call will wait for later on.”

For parents driving with children, Mr Cutting said forward planning was the best way to avoid car accidents or infant fatality. 

“Make sure (children) are restrained well, make sure they’re restrained properly, and make sure they don’t become a distraction to your driving.”

In November, SA Police launched Operation Distraction to help discourage drivers from taking the unnecessary risk of using their phone, or other gadgets when operating a motor vehicle.

During the month long, statewide operation, SA Police detected 1428 drivers using their mobile phone while driving.

The story Switching off distractions first appeared on Northern Argus.

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