Using Your Phone While Driving? 10 Things You Need To Know

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Most Australian’s know that it is illegal to touch your phone while driving. Using your phone while driving reduces your ability to make sensible decisions, reduces your awareness on the road, slows your reaction times and increase the chances of an accident.

A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study even found that texting on your phone while driving makes you 23 times more likely to cause or be involved in a crash.  No one can deny these facts. It is likely that you have pointed out someone drifting between lanes and not paying attention at traffic lights and said, “I bet they are on their phone”.

We all know it is wrong, but it would be nearly impossible for most drivers to say that they haven’t used their phone in some way while driving. Even if you can, you may not realise that some of your activity is actually breaking the law.

Here are ten common mobile phone misconceptions and facts.

  1. Using a cradle while texting is not breaking the law

Technically you aren’t physically touching your phone while driving you cannot get in trouble. However, you could be charged with driving without due care and attention.

  1. You can use your phones GPS function while driving

Using the GPS is still considered using your phone. You can however use your phones GPS if it is in a cradle, not obstructing your view and can be controlled by Bluetooth.

  1. It’s ok to use a phone at the traffic lights because you are stopped.

You cannot text, search through music or check an email while you are in stationary traffic. Stationary traffic is at a red light, stop sign, road works, school pick up or traffic jam.

  1. You can use your phone if you park legally on the side of the road.

Park legally means you are parked in an area where there are no restrictions on stopping or parking and you have turned off the ignition.

  1. On P plates your friend can put the phone on loud speaker while you are driving

Provisional license holders are not allowed to have any conversation on the phone while driving, even on Bluetooth.

  1. Bike riders can use their phone

Bike riders cannot use their phones while driving.

  1. You can use your phone for calls if it is on loudspeaker in your lap

It is illegal for your phone to be touching any part of your body while driving

  1. You can use your phone to play music

You can use your phone to play music provided it is in a cradle or secure location and can be controlled through a Bluetooth connection.

  1. You can make calls or play music if your phone is in your pocket

Yes, provided you are controlling the phone with a Bluetooth connection.

  1. If you have a smart watch you are not using your phone

The same rules apply to smart watches while driving. They may only be used for GPS navigation, music playing and phone calls through Bluetooth connections

So how do we stop ourselves from using these bright, loud and shiny devices?

  • Put your phone in the boot or glove box.
  • Turn off your mobile phone before you get in your car.
  • Install a hands-free kit.
  • Use Road Mode, or something similar, an android app that prevents you from being distracted by your phone while you drive.
  • Have all calls answered by voicemail.
  • Plan breaks in your trip for phone calls.

In most Australian states using your phone while driving will incur a $300-$450 fine and the loss of 3 demerit points. In Victoria, you will be charges $443 and 4 demerit points.  Queensland has also recently introduced double demerit point charges for second and subsequent mobile phone offence committed with 1 year of a previous offence. You can also be fined more if you commit the offence in a school zone.

Remember, we all share the road, be considerate and drive responsibly.

  1. alex Reply

    I have a question regarding number 5. (it doesn’t apply to me as I have my open licence) curiously, if it is illegal to have any kind of conversation on a mobile (even if your friend puts it on speaker) why is it then not illegal to have a conversation with the passenger – surely that’s just as distracting…

    • Shine Lawyers Reply

      Hi Alex, yes, having a conversation on speaker does seem similar to having a conversation with a passenger! The law has been put in place to stop drivers on provisional and learner licences being distracted by any mobile phone use while driving, so inconsistencies like this are worth it for having other drivers paying more attention on our roads.

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