Catching mobile phone use behind the wheel

mobile phone use behind the wheel
mobile phone use behind the wheel

 

Demerit point increase

From 17 September 2018, drivers who use a mobile phone illegally will be penalised an extra demerit point, up from four to five. During double demerit periods, drivers who break the rules will be penalised 10 demerit points.

With a large number of mobile phone owners in Australia - 19 million in 2016 with the figure set to rise to 20 million by 2019 - and the high-speed addition of new in-vehicle communication systems, distracted driving is fast becoming a severe and growing threat to road safety.

Ongoing problem

Mobile phone use while driving is becoming increasingly more prevalent on our roads, and considering how phones have become a necessary tool to keep businesses running while away from the office - it's easy to see why. But the truth is, there can be disastrous consequences. Last year we compiled a report, Can’t Talk. Driving. that called for a crackdown on illegal phone use behind the wheel. And thanks to the support of our Members, the NSW Government plans to invest in technology that can help catch distracted drivers, and change legislation to allow technology to be used to enforce mobile phone offences.

Our report found that 15% of drivers believe they won’t get caught using their phones, and one in five drivers claim they had a near miss because another driver was using their phone illegally. So it’s crucial Police are given the tools they need to appropriately reprimand drivers using their phones when they shouldn’t be, as the number of people killed and injured as a result of this behaviour continues to rise.

If you need a reminder on the current rules around mobile phone use on the road, take a look below at what applies to fully licensed drivers and motorcyclists.

Fully licensed drivers and motorcyclists rules

While driving or riding you CAN use your mobile phone:
YES: to make or answer a call 

Only if the phone is either:

* In a cradle fixed to the vehicle and doesn't obscure your view of the road

* Can be operated without touching any part of the phone, such as via Bluetooth or voice activation


 

YES: to use the audio playing function (e.g. music) 
YES: as a driver's aid (e.g. navigation, Speed Adviser app)  Only if the phone is in a cradle fixed to the vehicle and doesn't obscure your view of the road
While driving or riding you CANNOT use your mobile phone for anything else, including: 
NO: texting or audio texting 

* If you want to use your phone for any of these functions, your vehicle must be parked out of the line of traffic

* These functions are not permitted when your vehicle is stopped, including when waiting at traffic lights or stuck in traffic

NO: emailing 
NO: using social media 
NO: taking photos 
NO: video messaging 
NO: holding your phone in any way (in hand, on lap, between shoulder and ear). Drivers are only allowed to hold a phone to pass it to a passenger. 

Frequently asked questions

No. It is illegal to hold and use your phone at any time while driving or riding. If you want to hold and use your phone your vehicle must be parked out of the line of traffic.

No. It is illegal to have your mobile phone touching any part of your body, other than to pass it to a passenger.

Yes, if you have a full unrestricted licence. You can use a mobile phone for calls if it does not require you to touch the phone in any way (e.g. via Bluetooth). The rules allow your mobile phone to be in a pocket of your clothing.

No, if you have a learner or provisional licence, you are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving.

Yes, if you have a full unrestricted licence. You can use the audio playing function of a mobile phone as long as the phone is secured in a mounting fixed to the vehicle and doesn’t obscure your view of the road, or the phone can be operated without you touching any part of it, such as via Bluetooth.

No, if you have a learner or provisional licence, you are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving.

Yes, if you have a full unrestricted licence. You can use a mobile phone for calls if it is secured in a mounting fixed to the vehicle. Using a mobile phone legally can still be distracting. Consider if the call is urgent and the demands of the traffic before using your mobile.

No, if you have a learner or provisional licence, you are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving.

Yes, if you have a full unrestricted licence. You can use a mobile phone as a driver’s aid, such as GPS, as long as it is secured in a mounting fixed to the vehicle and doesn’t obscure your view of the road. You cannot hold your phone to use the GPS function.

No, if you have a learner or provisional licence, you are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving.

Yes. A GPS device that is not a mobile phone is permitted for all drivers, as long as the device is secured in a mounting fixed to the vehicle and does not obscure the driver’s view of the road. The device must not be placed in a location that will increase the likelihood of injury in a crash.

No. You cannot text at all while driving, whether or not your phone is secured in a mounting fixed to the vehicle.

Your mobile phone must be in a mounting that is commercially designed and manufactured for that purpose.

The mounting must be fixed to the vehicle in the manner intended by the manufacturer. It must not obscure your view of the road (in front and to the sides), and must not be placed in a location that will increase the likelihood of injury to you or a passenger in a crash. Find more information in our windscreen mounted phones and GPS fact sheet (PDF, 56Kb).

Want to keep your drivers safe?

Find out about our corporate driver training programs.