AN automatic loss of licence for using your mobile phone while driving could be the next step if a new campaign targeting distracted drivers fails to get the message across.
The radical plan was one of many put on the table at Friday's Road Safety Summit in Melbourne which brought together experts, victims, families and politicians to discuss what is going wrong on Victorian roads.
The Ballarat region has suffered 17 deaths on the roads so far in 2019, almost one a week this year while the soaring road toll, the highest in 14 years, is heavily skewed to regional roads.
Speaking before the summit, Roads Minister Jaala Pulford said nothing was off the table when discussing how to curb the road toll.
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Ms Pulford officially launched a new campaign aimed at drivers who use mobile phones, agreeing an automatic loss of licence could be the deterrent required.
Right now those caught driving while using a phone receive a $484 fine and four demerit points. She said the possibility of an automatic loss of licence could be investigated.
"We're not ruling anything out," Ms Pulford said. "While the penalties are quite severe now, the analogy with drink driving is a valuable one.
"At the end of the day, just put your phone in the glove box, it's not that hard.
"But if people don't respond to this campaign, perhaps its something we could look at going forward. Nothing is off the table."
While investigations remain ongoing, of the deaths on western region roads, it is understood up to half could be blamed on distraction from electrical devices.
Chief Executive Officer of the Transport Accident Commission Joe Calafiore said one of the toughest jobs of the TAC was to read "every single police accident report" which formed the basis of all of its campaigns.
"The TAC receives 22,000 new clients every year, this is people who go to hospital and their lives are altered forever," he said.
"We also know that in seven out of the eight trauma wards at The Alfred Hospital where people were seriously injured in crashes, they've admitted they were on their phones."
Ballarat Traffic Management Unit Acting Senior Sergeant Stuart Gale said the use of IT had become a major issue on local roads.
"Distraction is a huge issue, mobile phones play into that, GPS units play into that, people's thought patterns play into those as well," he said.
"It's about people concentrating on the road.
"We can't curb these deaths as police on our own, we need the community's help to deal with this."
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