Did you know that it’s illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving – even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or in congested traffic? The using of mobile phone when you are driving a motor vehicle is outlawed. This includes making it illegal to:
- Turning your phone on or off.
- Making and receiving calls.
- Sending or reading text messages (yes, even reading a text sent to you is breaking the law!).
- Operating any function on your phone, such as picking a song from your playlist or switching your phone to loudspeaker.
You can only use a hand-held phone in a car if you are legally parked. This means making the motor vehicle stop and stay. The best advice is for drivers is to adopt a “set and forget” mindset.
As recommended by the RACQ, “If you are using your phone for GPS, or even setting a playlist and putting some music on or a podcast, set it before you get on the road and forget it”.
The public has become increasingly concerned about driver distraction. It reflects the way that many drivers are continuing to use their phones despite community publicity on the associated dangers. As an example, the Queensland State Government issued about 50,000 fines over the past three (3) years to drivers who were caught using their mobile phones whilst driving a motor vehicle.
New laws in Queensland start on 01 February, 2020 making it a lot more expensive in you’re caught using a mobile phone whilst driving in Queensland. The penalty is now a fine of $1,000.00 (increasing from the previous $400.00 penalty), and repeat offenders could now lose their driver’s licence.
Other States are following closely the change of law in Queensland. Currently, the penalty in New South Wales is a fine of $337.00 and in Victoria a fine of $484.00. There are higher fines for Learner Drivers or where the offence occurs in a school zone.
Heavy handed? Maybe, yet the consequences for driver inattention and irresponsibility can be tragic and very long lasting. For example, traffic accidents account for many deaths as well as frequently serious injuries including brain damage, which have long lasting ill-effects for the victims and the families. Government statistics reveal that an average of 25 people are killed and 1,235 seriously injured each year in Queensland as a result of driver distraction.
The new rules in Queensland are even stricter for Learner and P1 plate drivers (drivers with a “Provisional” red plate licence) who are under 25 years of age, who can’t use hands-free devices for their phones at all whilst driving a motor vehicle. Such drivers are also prohibited from using the loudspeaker function on their phone or that of any of their passenger’s phones. (Note, drivers with an “Open” licence are permitted to use a hands-free or cradle-mounted phone in Queensland to make or answer a call or use the navigation whilst driving).
Prevention is the objective and as another example, last year a New South Wales woman was fined because one of her passengers was using Face Time, which in that particular circumstance was deemed to have created a distraction for the driver. Cars are large mechanical machines. Giving full attention to the operation of that machine is vital and essential for the safety of both the driver and passengers of the vehicle. As the Queensland Transport Minister, Mark Bailey points out, “a driver’s response time while texting is comparable to that of a driver intoxicated by alcohol”, meaning that there is a distinct delay (in the driver’s reactions) which can have very serious repercussions. “It’s a deadly habit that needs to stop”.
Text, calls, maps and music – the temptation for drivers to reach for their mobile phone whilst behind the wheel can sometimes prove overwhelming.
Suggestion: if you’re someone who might be tempted, then when you get into your car, put your mobile away in the boot of your car, to access again at the end of your journey.
In you’re doing the right thing, yet unfortunately get involved in a car crash, then contact us for support.