Police and Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts has announced that new penalties for illegal mobile phone use while driving will now commence on September 1, 2020.
Drivers are only permitted to touch their phone while it is mounted in a cradle and only to accept or end a voice call.
From September 1, drivers caught holding or touching their phone to make a voice call when it is not mounted in a cradle will receive an increased penalty of $500 and three demerit points.
The creation of an aggravated offence for drivers caught texting, emailing, watching video content, accessing social media or any other functions on their phone will carry a $1,000 fine and four demerit point penalty.
This takes into account the deliberate and more dangerous risk taking behaviour, which can result in a higher level of driver distraction.
Exceptions will be made to allow on-demand drivers to touch their phones to accept new jobs while driving, where it is safe to do so and if the phone is in a mount secured to the vehicle.
However, they will not be able to accept or decline jobs by touching their mobile phones if they are travelling:
- in a school zone during the school zone activated period;
- on the freeway;
- on a road with a speed limit of 80kmh or more; or
- in a SLOMO or slow down, move over situation, where a vehicle must slow down to 40kmh to pass an emergency response vehicle with lights activated parked on the side of the road.
Presently rideshare drivers can only accept new jobs by touching the phone if they are safely parked.
The amendments will place rideshare drivers on a similar footing to taxi drivers in relation to booking transactions.
Any driver can set their mobile phone as a navigational tool prior to their journey (and glance at the screen to follow their route) but it is illegal to touch the screen to change the route or use any other function of the navigational tool while the vehicle is moving or stationary but not parked.
As stated by Police and Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts:
“Texting, emailing, FaceTiming or watching videos while you’re driving is incredibly dangerous.
“It can be deadly – it’s like driving with your eyes shut.
“Let’s give the roads our full attention and all drive safer.”