NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay this week launched a major Centre for Road Safety marketing campaign to address the serious and dangerous issue of mobile phone driver distraction.
Mr Gay said the “Get Your Hand Off It” campaign uses traditional advertising and a YouTube video to highlight the excuses motorists make so they can hold their mobile phone while driving.
“Holding your mobile phone to call or text while driving is extremely dangerous, and threatens your safety and that of your passengers, other motorists and pedestrians,” Mr Gay said.
“This behaviour needs to change. ‘Get Your Hand Off It’ provides the community with a cheeky phrase that empowers them to speak out against friends and family who use their phones in a reckless manner behind the wheel.
“The video addresses in an unconventional way the danger of using a handheld phone behind the wheel and references some of the common excuses used to justify such dangerous and illegal behaviour.
“It amazes me that people pick up their phone and take their eyes off the road to make and receive calls, send and check texts and emails or check Facebook and Twitter all while they’re at the wheel of a moving vehicle.
“It is reckless and dangerous behaviour that can and does have disastrous and tragic results,” Mr Gay said.
Figures from the State Debt Recovery Office indicate that in 2012 there were 42,893 infringements issued to motorists for using a mobile phone while driving.
While two thirds of the driving population agree that using their mobile phone while driving is dangerous, statistics show that many do it regardless.
“Our research into this emerging issue has shown that 49 per cent of motorists make calls using a handheld phone while driving,” the Minister said.
“A further 55 per cent indicated that they take calls while driving.
“More than a third of those surveyed in the 20-29 age group indicated that they texted while driving. That’s a frightening statistic, because it’s such a dangerous activity,” he said.
The “Get Your Hand Off It” campaign is aimed at all genders and all age groups, but a video placed on YouTube is aimed at the primary target market of 17-33 years.
“We placed a video on YouTube last week that playfully reminds motorists to ‘Get Your Hand Off It’,” Mr Gay said.
“We’ve wanted to do a social media campaign for some time, and this campaign, with its subject matter and young target market was an ideal fit.
“We needed to work with someone who understands You Tube and were impressed by the way Derek Anderson engages with young people through his off-beat videos.
“Derek collaborated with the team that developed “the Bondi Hipsters” and “Beached As” to help us communicate these safety messages in a fun and engaging way that still makes clear the seriousness of this dangerous activity.
“We chose to use humour that would appeal to the target audience and get them talking about and sharing it with their peers,” Mr Gay said.
Anderson said the video effectively highlighted the risks that a lot of people take behind the wheel.
“I really enjoyed working on this video, it was good to see that Transport for NSW was open to creative ways of reaching Gen Y,” he said.
“The song is really catchy, but whether you love the video or hate it, we just hope the message gets through: Get Your Hand Off It.”
Telstra, Optus, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone have all thrown their support behind the campaign, producing communications with their customers that reinforce that they should never use a handheld mobile phone while they drive.
New road rules in November last year make it clear that a phone can only be used if it is mounted in a cradle or is operated by Bluetooth or voice activation.
This campaign makes it abundantly clear that it is against the law to pick up and use a phone while driving. A driver may only hold a phone to pass it to a passenger.
The ‘Get Your Hand Off It’ campaign will feature outdoor advertisements, including on buses and taxis, to reach at the most effective time those motorists who take these risks.
To view the video, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsgxNLuivy0