The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is calling for tougher penalties for drivers who text or use mobile phones while driving, including loss of licence for newly qualified drivers.

Releasing the AMA Position Statement on Road Safety 2018, AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said that the AMA is committed to advocating for improvements in the way Australians drive, the cars they drive, and the roads they drive on.

“For this reason, the AMA has, for the first time, released a Position Statement on road safety,” Dr Gannon said. “Doctors – along with paramedics, ambulance officers, and nurses – see the tragic consequences of road trauma. They see when road safety is ignored and when avoidable accidents occur – accidents that take lives and cause horrific injuries.

“At this time of year, more families are travelling on our roads. Sadly, we have seen terrible tragedies, with 66 people dying in car crashes across Australia this holiday period.”

Dr Gannon said the AMA was particularly concerned about the use of mobile telephones and electronic devices, including navigational devices, in cars. He added that the AMA supports measures that change driver behaviour.

“Your driver’s licence is a privilege, not a right. Drivers who breach the road rules are putting themselves and others at risk, and must face meaningful sanctions,” he said. “Good habits must be ingrained in new, inexperienced drivers. There should be zero tolerance of provisional and learner drivers who use mobile phones or electronic devices, and penalties should include the loss of licence for up to a year.”

The AMA Position Statement on Road Safety 2018 is available here.