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It’s People Like Us

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60 second trailer

30 second trailer


What is the documentary about?

'It's People Like Us' is a short documentary that shines a light on the increasing dependence we have on our smartphones and the implications this is having on our society and on the roads.

Smartphones have come into our lives so quickly that we haven’t stopped to collectively establish what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to using them. This is having a profound impact on our behaviour, as well as our personal health and safety.

The documentary follows five people who have found themselves, like us, drawn into their screens when driving, putting their own and the safety of others at risk.

In exposing the extent of this problem, the documentary aims to get us all to stop, think and discuss the places where we should and shouldn’t use our phones.

Is it dangerous to use your phone when driving?

Given it means taking your eyes off the road or considerably reducing your concentration whilst driving, it’s one of the most dangerous things we can do whilst on the road.

Driving with your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles your crash risk.

Travel speedDistraction timeDistance travelled (m)
40km/h2 seconds22.22
50km/h2 seconds27.78
60km/h2 seconds33.33
80km/h2 seconds44.44
100km/h2 seconds55.56
Were these people fined as a result of their behaviour?

None of the people in the documentary were caught using their phones during production, and they won’t be punished for their involvement in this documentary by being retrospectively fined.

Victoria Police acknowledge that real footage of real driving behavior is vital to bring this issue to the attention of all Victorians.

Why has the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) supported this documentary?

The TAC is supporting this documentary to aim to start a conversation in the community about how we use our phones, in particular the social acceptability of mobile phone use when driving.

In exposing the extent of this problem, the documentary aims to get us all to stop, think and discuss the places where we should and shouldn’t use our phones.

How were the people featured in the documentary recruited?

We put out a general casting call to all Victorians aged between 18 and 30, who hold a valid driver’s license, have access to a car and own a mobile phone.

Each of the people filmed were made aware of the TAC’s involvement in the documentary from the outset, along with how the footage was going to be used.

Each was instructed to behave as they normally would, which has ensured we were able to capture natural and real footage to shine a light on this issue.

What are the penalties for being caught using your phone whilst driving?

The penalties are 4 demerit points and a $476 fine.

What is legal use of phones in cars?

In Victoria, using a handheld mobile phone while driving is prohibited – no matter your age or how long you have been driving for.

Probationary drivers cannot use a mobile phone at all, not even on Bluetooth.

If you have a full driver’s license you may make or receive a phone call or use its audio/music functions provided the phone is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle, or can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone, and the phone is not resting on any part of the driver's body.

How does using your phone while driving compare to other driving distractions?

There are lots of things that can take your eyes off the road and distract you.

There are technical distractions like your phone, audio systems and sometimes your navigation. It always depends how you've got them set. And then there's the distractions like passengers and like billboards and things outside the car which can take your attention away.

No matter what it is, if you’re taking your eyes or attention off the road you’re putting yourself and others at risk.

Were the people in the documentary paid for their involvement?

Yes, they were paid to compensate them for their time during the making of the documentary.

This included the time they took to provide their cars for the installing of cameras, having camera crews in their cars, attending briefings and training.

How is this documentary going to save lives on our roads?

This documentary is designed to stimulate conversation within the community.

To address this modern problem of phone usage when driving, we knew we had to do something different to reach young drivers and a different audience.

Rather than show the consequences of texting and driving through advertising, we wanted to start at the root of the problem – which is our broader relationship with our phones – and to stimulate a social and cultural conversation around it.

What do you want me to do about it?

We’re calling on all drivers to put their phones away when driving.

We’re all responsible for the choices we make every time we use the roads and not using your phone is a simple thing we can do to keep yourselves and other people safe.

Consider talking to your friends and family, and encourage each other to put your phones away when driving, we know they’re tempting but the risk isn’t worth it.

If you’re using hands free mobiles while driving it’s important to keep the conversations short and ones that won’t upset or distract you significantly. If possible, just totally minimise your mobile phone use and avoid talking when driving at all.

How can passengers play a role in keeping people safe on the roads?

Passengers have got a huge role. Passengers can encourage drivers not to use their mobile phones by having a simple conversation asking them to not use their phone when driving, or offering to call or text someone on behalf of the driver.

How can people stop this risky behavior when driving?

To make sure you’re not putting yourself or others at risk on the roads, put your phone away where you can’t be tempted to use it.

Alternatively you could download an app such as VicRoads Road Mode which monitors incoming calls and let’s callers know via text that you are driving and will return their call when you have finished.

Apple has also recently released a new App which you can turn on before you drive, and it will automatically send a text saying that you’re driving if someone tries to call or text you.

What are the long term solutions to this problem?

Until autonomous vehicles become the norm, technologies are available to reduce the risk of in car mobile phone use.

For example Apple has launched a ‘drive mode’ which is an extension of their ‘do not disturb’ functionality. This allows you to go into drive mode so that your phone basically won't ring or ping while you're driving – and respond to people who are trying to contact you to let them know you're driving.

Alternatively, there is an app for android phones called Road Mode. It lets other people know that you're driving and that's why you're not responding.

The best response to this right now is that we take action as individuals, as a community and make choices that stop us using our phones in the car.

Why are you targeting young people with this documentary when Australians of all ages use their phones habitually too?

We are starting with a core audience who have grown up with mobile phones in their hands and are now behind the wheel. This short documentary aims to appeal to people of all ages who can identify to this behavior in either themselves or someone they know.

Who is the Director, Eva Orner?

Eva Orner is an Academy and Emmy Award winning filmmaker who brings cultural and political issues into the public consciousness. Orna’s  films have taken us within the walls of Guantanamo Bay (Taxi to the Dark Side) and Nauru and Manus Island detention centres (Chasing Asylum). Orner's films stimulate debate and inspire social and political action.

In ‘It’s People Like Us’, Orner examined the issue of phones in society and phones on our roads to help start a conversation about the implications they’re having on us as a society.

Why is the documentary called ‘It’s People Like Us’?

This title talks to the fact that our dependence on our phones is having a huge impact on all of us, and on all parts of our lives. We want people to realise that this is not 'other people’s problem,' or even just a problem with ‘young people’ – it’s people like all of us who are using phones in inappropriate places, and it’s people like us who must collectively decide that it’s not okay.

Is the problem that we all think we’re better drivers than everyone else on the roads?

Yes, that’s part of the problem.

In 2015 the TAC surveyed 727 Victorians and found 65% of all drivers think they are "better than the average driver" (2015 study). And 26-39 year olds think they are the best drivers on the roads. People don't start thinking they're ‘average’ drivers until they're over 60 years.

Do many people use their mobile phones when driving?

A study undertaken in 2015 found that the majority of people (88%) know it’s dangerous to use their phone while driving but it’s not stopping them from illegally using it when they’re behind the wheel.

  • 27% admit to reading a text while driving
  • 12% admit to writing a text message when driving
  • 20% answer a call on their hand held mobile
  • 13% made a call on their mobile