“It is a different type of policing than in the bush”: Police officers’ perceptions of the differences in enforcement of the phone use while driving legislation in rural and urban areas

Mobile phone use while driving continues to be a significant road safety concern, despite the severe legal countermeasures to reduce this behavior. Phone use while driving-related crashes have been demonstrated to be an issue in rural areas, yet research into the impact of legal sanctions on phone use while driving has primarily focused on urban areas. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate differences in enforcement of phone use while driving between rural and urban environments as reported by police officers. In addition, to provide necessary context, this study aimed to explore how the police officers perceive differences in drivers’ engagement in phone use while driving between rural and urban environments. To address these aims, a total of 26 police officers from Queensland, Australia (18 with both rural and urban experience, 6 with only rural experience and 2 with only urban experience) completed an interview. A total of seven themes were developed from the data. Several differences between rural and urban environments were identified concerning different types of phone offending behavior, as well as different resources, management and infrastructure that can impact police enforcement. For example, it was suggested that drivers in rural areas have less reasons to use their phone while driving. Nevertheless, when this behavior does occur, it is more challenging to enforce this law in rural compared to urban environments. The results not only provide important contextual information for phone use while driving research, but also suggest that enforcement strategies for this behavior may need to be recontextualized to incorporate the more nuanced aspects of rural policing.


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  • Accession Number: 01879291
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 17 2023 9:01AM