Work demands causing Australians to text and drive

Work obligations are prompting 40 percent of Australian motorists to break the law by using their mobile phones while driving, a new survey says.According to Telstra's latest "Drive Safe.

Work obligations are prompting 40 percent of Australian motorists to break the law by using their mobile phones while driving, a new survey says.

According to Telstra's latest "Drive Safe.Phone Safe" survey, 39 percent of people use their mobile handset while driving to work, during work or for work-related purposes. The survey said that 11 percent use their handset at least once a day, while 14 percent of the respondents admitted to having sent text messages while driving to work, during work or from work.

Telstra managing director of mobile sales and solutions, Murray Bergin, said the survey showed that the main reasons people make and receive calls while driving to, from or during work were business-related.

"While awareness of the dangers of using a handheld mobile phone has increased significantly since Telstra launched its Drive Safe. Phone Safe' initiative three years ago, it appears this is forgotten by some, particularly when it comes to the demands of work," Bergin said.

The most common reasons given by the respondents for using their handsets while driving included telling the office where they were and what they were doing (20 percent), saying they were running late (17 percent), organising a meeting (15 percent), checking their schedule (8 percent) and having a meeting (6 percent).

Seventy-seven percent of the people surveyed indicated that they would talk for less than five minutes, while 10 percent talk for anything between six and 20 minutes at a time.

A Telstra survey released in June showed that young Australian motorists think it's okay to use their mobile phones while driving.

The survey showed that 58 percent of motorists aged 17 to 29 admitted to looking down at their mobiles phone to read text messages while at the wheel.

One third of drivers previously surveyed who were less than 30 years old believed it was safe to send text messages when at traffic lights. The same proportion of under-30s also felt they could drive "okay" while talking on a handheld mobile, and that it was safe to send a text message when waiting at traffic lights.

Every state and territory in Australia has outlawed the use of handheld mobile phones while driving motor vehicles, even when stopped at traffic lights. The law requires drivers to be be legally parked in a safe place and have the engine turned off, before using a handheld mobile phone. A hands-free device is, however, permitted.