Border delays double as new risk to motorists uncovered
Delays at the Queensland border with NSW have doubled, as police deal with changes to the processing system, as hundreds of motorists are potentially risking a $1000 fine and our demerit points for using their mobile phones while passing through checkpoints.
Queensland Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said delays at the border had doubled to 50 minutes since the state opened up to a new wave of travellers on Tuesday.
"We're seeing some slight delays in terms of the processing because of the change in system," he said.
"The worst delays we're seeing is around 50 minutes on the Gold Coast.
"Typically in peak times it's around 25 minutes."
Currently, traffic at the Gold Coast border is backed up for almost 3km into New South Wales and another 2km into Queensland.
Under tough new laws introduced in February by the Labor government, it is illegal for drivers to hold a mobile phone, even if they have stopped in traffic or are just turning their phone on or off.
But each day, motorists cruise through the checkpoint at Coolangatta and hold their mobile phones out the window to show their border pass to police so they can enter Queensland.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey has equated using a mobile phone while driving to having a blood alcohol reading of 0,7 or higher and said more than 30 people died because of motorists driving while distracted in 2018.
Mr Bailey refused to say whether he condoned motorists using their mobile phones while driving in contradiction to the tough laws and penalties that were introduced in February.
"The Queensland Police Service continue to do an excellent job managing our border and I have full confidence in their approach to the unique challenge of COVID-19," Mr Bailey told NCA NewsWire.
"Queensland was first to introduce $1000 fines to discourage drivers using their phones while driving and we will continue our focus on reducing driver distraction."
Despite the delays, Mr Gollschewski said the border check system was "working very effectively".
"We're seeing less people turned away," he said.
Queensland Police has been contacted for comment.
Originally published as Border delays double as new risk to motorists uncovered