Driver distraction

Using your mobile phone when driving can cause distraction

ACT Policing actively targets people illegally using their mobile phones while driving. If you are caught you will receive a Traffic Infringement Notice.

Note: Under the road transport law, including the Australian Road Rules, driving generally includes riding a motorcycle or bicycle.

The most appropriate place to make or receive a telephone call is on the side of the road when your vehicle is parked. This doesn’t mean you can make a call or use your telephone while waiting at traffic lights.

Mobile phones may be used to make or receive a phone call (other than a text message, video message, email or similar communication) when the vehicle is moving if the body of the phone is:

  • Secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle while being used; or
  • Not secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle and is not being held by the driver, and the use of the phone does not require the driver, at any time while using it, to press any thing on the body of the phone or to otherwise manipulate any part of the body of the phone.

Many new vehicles have a blue tooth systems which can be paired with a mobile telephone, allowing you to make a call ‘hands-free’.

If you need to make or receive a call while driving:

  • keep the conversation short;
  • don't engage in complex or emotional conversations;
  • tell the person on the other end that you are driving and may have to end the call abruptly; and   
  • end the call if it is distracting you from driving.

Never text or email while driving.

A mobile phone can be important in an emergency. If you need to use your mobile phone to call for help, stop and park safely where you will not endanger yourself or other road users.

The Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Amendment Regulation 2015 (No.2) came into effect on 19 November 2015.

The amendment allows ACT drivers to use their mobile phone for GPS purposes, provided the phone is securely affixed to the vehicle. The mounting used must be one that is commercially designed and manufactured for that purpose and the phone must be secured in the mounting and the mounting must be affixed to the vehicle in the manner intended by the manufacturer. Motorists are encouraged to rely on the GPS’ spoken directions to avoid the need to look at the phone when driving. A rider may not strap a standalone GPS device or a mobile phone to their arm or any other part of their body.

What are the fines for driver distraction?

The fines for driver distraction offences range from $146 to $548 and the loss of up to four demerit points. 

  • Drive using handheld mobile phone - $470
  • Drive with TV/VDU likely to distract - $245
  • Drive without clear view - $200
  • Start/ drive vehicle cause unnecessary noise/ smoke – $245
  • Passenger obstruct drivers view – $200
  • Driver or passenger lead animal while driving – $151
  • Driver vehicle with person/animal in lap – $200
  • Drive without proper control of vehicle - $292
  • Drive using mobile phone for messaging, social networking, mobile application or accessing the internet - $577

Frequently asked questions

Why is it ok for police to be on their phones while driving?

Under the Australian Road Rules Sec 300 1 (b), the driver of an emergency or police vehicle is permitted to use a mobile phone while driving. Mobile phones are another form of communication police use for operational purposes.

Can I use my hands-free phone?

If you can work your phone without holding it, then yes.

What about if it's in a cradle?

Again, if you don't hold the phone, you're fine. Pushing buttons on a phone that is in a cradle or on a steering wheel or handlebars is not allowed.

Isn’t using a hands-free device still distracting?

You can still risk prosecution for failing to have proper control of your vehicle. If you have a collision and are using a hands-free phone, you could still be charged with various offences depending on the circumstances.

Can I text?

Not if you have to hold your phone while texting, using the internet or using video technology.

Can I use my phone for messaging, social networking, mobile application or accessing the internet?

Not while the vehicle is stationary or moving.

Can I use my phone between my shoulder and my ear?

Absolutely not. This still counts as holding the phone to make or receive a call.

Can my passengers use their mobiles while I'm driving?

Yes.

I'm stuck in a traffic jam, what then?

The ban applies when driving; this includes time stopped at traffic lights or other hold-ups where a vehicle is expected to move after a short while. Your vehicle must be parked before you can use your phone.

What if I'm driving and my phone rings?

Let the call go to voicemail and return the call after you've parked your vehicle.

But I have to use my mobile for my job.

You cannot use your hand-held phone while driving. Use a hands free option instead.

I've heard two-way radios can still be used, is that true?

Yes, the term 'mobile phone' does not include a CB radio or any other two-way radio. However, if using the radio causes distraction drivers could still be prosecuted depending on the circumstances.

Surely making an emergency call is ok?

There is no exemption for calls to Triple Zero (000). Park first.