Mobile Phones: Rules And Penalties For Drivers

By Omid

A large number of Australians own mobile phones. They come in use for communicating through voice or video calls, messages, and emails. So it's no surprise that people always have their phones in their hands as it has become a necessity in people's lives.

But it has put drivers at risk of road accidents due to using phones while behind the wheel. The Department of Transport and Main Roads has set some rules to prevent these accidents from happening. Let's find out what these restrictions are and if there is an exemption.

General Rule: 

It is illegal to hold a mobile phone or have it resting on any part of your body. This rule applies even when you're stopped in traffic.

Note: Your phone doesn't need to be turned on or in use to be an offence.

Restrictions for Learners and P1 Drivers:

If you are a learner and P1 (Red P) driver who's under the age of 25, you are not allowed to use your mobile phone and loudspeaker function. You must not also use any hands-free or wireless headsets as this can take your attention off the road.

But if you have an open or a P2 (Green P) licence, you have more freedom in the use of a mobile phone. Here's what you're allowed to do with your phone behind the wheel.

You can touch your phone if you're using it hands-free to:

  • accept calls 
  • use a navigation app 
  • skip a song 
  • accept or end a trip as a rideshare driver

Keep in mind that you need to have your phone in a cradle attached to your car. And it must not, in any way, obstruct your vision of the road. You as the driver should maintain safe and proper control of the vehicle. 

You can also hold your phone when safely stopped to:

  • pay for goods and services (example, drive-through)
  • gain access to a car park
  • present a digital driver's licence or other documents when stopped by police
You will get a penalty if you are caught illegally using your phone while driving or during a traffic stop. It is an offence if you hold your phone to text, call, or perform other functions that will divert your focus. You will receive $1,033 and 4 demerits will be recorded in your traffic history. This will be doubled if you commit the same offence within one year.

It is your responsibility to be a safe driver. And part of this is to obey the rules when it comes to using your mobile phone while driving. As an additional precautionary measure, you should put it out of your sight and reach. This way, you won’t be tempted to use your phone while stuck in traffic or during your drive.

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