Documentary exposes our worst phone habits

Five young Australian drivers demonstrate disturbing driving habits in documentary It's People Like Us.
Five young Australian drivers demonstrate disturbing driving habits in documentary It's People Like Us. Supplied

A NEW documentary that shines a light on how smartphones are ruling our lives will hit far too close to home for plenty of Australians.

Since the birth of the iPhone 10 years ago, ubiquitous pocket-sized distraction devices have worked their way into every facet of our lives.

Phones are carried with us constantly, used in the car, on the street, even on the toilet, and the new confronting new film exposese our worst behaviour when it comes to using these handheld mischief-makers.

In It's People Like Us, five young Australians signed up to have their mobile phone use monitored while driving, and the resulting film is shocking.

Each of the subjects admitted they were drawn to their screens, but most made efforts to justify their on-road screen time.

"I don't have the time to stop and pick up a call, I don't have time to stop and send a text message, it's just so much easier," one participant says.

"My friends always freak out and are like 'get off your phone'. I'm like, did you die? You didn't die, it's OK," another ventures.

One of the young female participants, who is filmed texting with both hands while her car is clearly moving, and even taking selfies while diving, says: "I'll check it at the lights, but one thing I'll draw the line at is using it while you're moving, because that's something that's like, pretty dangerous."

Each of the subjects is filmed staring down at their phones while behind the wheel, and a number of near-misses are caught on camera.

It's shocking to watch, but likely a similar scene that would play out if driver-facing dashcams were inserted into the vehicles of most young drivers.

Even selfies at the wheel aren’t off limits.
Even selfies at the wheel aren’t off limits. Supplied

The film comes as the Transport Accident Commission has released new research finding a shocking number of young drivers use their phones while driving.

The TAC surveyed 505 Australians aged between 18 and 30 and found 49 per cent of Victorian drivers would check their phone instantly if they got a message.

It's People Like Us director Eva Orner says the documentary aims to start a community conversation about an issue that is "everyone's problem", and the timing of the message is spot on.

"With the average person checking their phone 150 times a day, and 2017 marking 10 years since the first iPhone, phone attachment has become ingrained in our everyday lives, and everyone is doing it," Ms Orner said.

"We haven't established boundaries on when and where it is OK to use our phones, resulting in a profound impact on our behaviour, our relationships as well as our personal health and safety."

She said the film aimed to "get each and every one of us to think about how we use our phones in every day life, question how they have become an extension of ourselves, and most importantly inspire change and self-regulation".

One of the participants, Karla, who said it would take having a serious accident to stop her from using her phone while in the drivers' seat, had a close friend suffer just that only weeks after filming wrapped.

Karla: ‘It’s not worth it’.
Karla: ‘It’s not worth it’. Supplied

"My friend was driving down the road on his motorbike, and as he was driving straight, two girls turned left, and cut him off because they were two busy on their phones," she said in a clip posted to the documentary's website.

"He had to swerve around them, and he ended up hitting into a bus pole."

Karla's friend was in an induced coma for seven days, and continues to suffer head injuries, anxiety and depression, and has been forced to learn how to walk again.

"I used to always text and drive, but seeing what my friend has gone through has taught me a big lesson," she said.

"After seeing my head on the screen, especially the part where my head's down and I'm actually texting and then turning without even looking on the road ... I'm scared to be on the road with people that are text-driving.

"It's not worth it. Just get off the phone."

It's People Like Us is available to view online.

Topics:  documentary editors picks movies smartphone

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