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The laws for mobile phone use when driving

For your employees

It goes without saying, mobile phone use and driving do not mix.

Research shows that driver distraction is a major contributor in one of every four motor vehicle accidents, and mobile phones are the main culprit when it comes to driver distraction.

Referring to the Department of Infrastructure & Transport and the National Road Safety Council’s Community Attitudes to Road Safety: 2011 Survey Report, researchers from QUT “found that 93 percent of Australian drivers owned a mobile phone, and of these drivers 50 percent reported using their mobile phone for driving… 31 percent of drivers [reported] reading, and 14 percent sending text messages while driving.”

As the authors of the study observed, using a mobile phone while driving “increases your risk of a crash four-fold, irrespective of whether a hands-free kit is used.”

using a mobile phone while driving increases your risk of a crash four-fold, irrespective of whether a hands-free kit is used.

Given this kind of data, it’s little wonder that law enforcement in every state and territory of Australia makes little apology for coming down hard on mobile phone use while driving.

It is illegal in Australia to use a mobile phone while driving

Use of a mobile phone includes talking, texting and playing games, taking photos or video or using any of the functions of your phone.

While the wording differs only very slightly in each state and territory’s road rules, mobile phones can only be used to make or receive a phone call (other than a text message, video message email or similar communication) when the vehicle is moving if the body of 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 (Bluetooth and voice-activated controls), and the phone is not resting on any part of the driver’s body.

Importantly, using a hand-held mobile phone is illegal when your vehicle is stationary but not parked (i.e. at traffic lights, or on the brakes in heavy traffic).

Penalties

Each state has its own set of penalties and demerit point system when it comes to mobile phone use when driving, which currently looks like this:

South Australia

In South Australia, getting pinged on the phone while driving comes with a whopping $535 ‘expiation fee’ and the loss of three demerit points.

New South Wales

NSW law permits mobile phone use to make or answer a call without touching the handset. This also applies to the use of the phone’s audio playing functions and driver aids like GPS.

In NSW, the fine for getting caught using your phone while driving is $337 but increases to $448 if you’re caught on the phone in a school zone.

Learner and provisional drivers and motorcycle riders are banned from using phones at all while driving or riding. Learner and P1 drivers and riders caught using a mobile phone while driving face a three-month suspension, while P2 drivers and riders find themselves only two demerit points away from losing their licence.

Victoria

Like NSW, Victorian law permits fully licenced drivers and motorcycle riders to use a mobile phone to make or answer a call without touching the handset, as well as use the audio playing functions of the phone and driver’s aids like GPS.

Learner and provisional licence holders are also banned from using mobile phones at all. If you’ve held a motorcycle licence for less than three years, mobile phone use while riding is banned.

Getting nabbed using your phone while driving in Victoria comes with a $484 fine, and the deduction of four demerit points.

ACT

The penalties for mobile phone use in the ACT fall under the heading of ‘Driver Distraction Offences’.

Using the phone while you’re behind the wheel in the nation’s capital is referred to as ‘Drive while using handheld mobile phone’. This offence will set you back $470 and shave four demerit points from your licence.

Instead, if the police issue you with a fine for ‘Drive using mobile phone for messaging, social networking, mobile application or accessing the internet’, you can expect to be $577 lighter in the pocket.

Western Australia

In WA, drivers caught using their mobile while behind the wheel can be fined up to $400 and docked three demerit points. Unlike NSW and Victoria, the same rules apply to all drivers and riders, including L and P-Plate drivers and riders.

Queensland

Learner and P1 provisional drivers under 25 in Queensland cannot use hands-free, wireless headsets or a mobile phone’s loudspeaker function while behind the wheel. Interestingly, perhaps in terms of driver distraction, a learner and P1 provisional drivers’ passengers are also banned from using a mobile phone’s loudspeaker function.

Being caught on the blower while driving in Queensland will set you back up to $400 and three demerit points, with double demerit points applying for a second phone use offence if it occurs within 12 months of the original infringement.

Tasmania

Driving in Tasmania and using the phone carries with it a $300 fine and the loss of three demerit points. Like NSW, Victoria and Queensland, learner and provisional licence holders are banned from using mobile phones while driving, with no exceptions to that rule.

Northern Territory

Similar to Western Australia, mobile phone use laws in the Northern Territory apply equally to learner, provisional and full licence holders. Get caught using the phone while driving in the Top End, and you can expect a fine of $250 and the loss of three demerit points.

 

Changing behaviour

Whether you’re a long-haul truck driver regularly crossing state borders or someone who simply drives your car to and from work, avoiding the use of your mobile phone when behind the wheel is essential to your safety and wellbeing, not to mention the lives of you, your family and other road users.

The alternative is just not worth the risk.

 

If you are managing employees who drive as part of their job requirements, do you have clear safety policies regarding mobile phone use in cars? Maybe it’s time for a review?

Start a conversation with LeasePlan today to see if your motor vehicle policies need a review

 

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