Leave your phone alone

If you use your phone illegally while driving, you're just as dangerous as a drink driver.

It is illegal to hold your phone in your hand or have it resting on any part of your body, such as your lap, while driving or riding. This applies even when you’re stopped in traffic or at traffic lights. The phone doesn’t need to be turned on or in use for it to be an offence.

How to set up ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ on your iPhone

Step-by-step instructions [PDF, 207 KB]

  1. Go to settings.
  2. Go to ‘Do Not Disturb’.
  3. Scroll down to ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’.
  4. Activate it, choosing 1 of 3 options –
    1. Automatically.
    2. When connected to car Bluetooth.
    3. Manually.

If you're having difficulty adding this feature to your current phone, head to Apple’s support page for further instructions.

How to set up ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ on Android

Step-by-step instructions [PDF, 207 KB]

  1. Go to your notifications shade.
  2. Use the quick toggle for ‘Do Not Disturb’ – this will be either on your first or second panel.
  3. Activate it before you get in the car.
  4. Deactivate when you finish driving.

Not all Android phones have a ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ feature built in. Android users can head to the Google Play store, search for ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ and download any of the free apps available.

Male driver viewing social media while driving

Open Licence

Open licence holders who use their phones illegally while driving will receive a $1033 fine and four demerit points for the first offence.

This applies to everyone with an open licence including car, truck drivers and motorcycle riders.

For a second mobile phone offence in 12 months you will receive another $1033 fine and a further eight demerit points. Two offences in a year could mean you lose your licence or are put on a one-year good driving behaviour period.

What is allowed

If you have an open licence you can use a phone hands-free, for example, in a cradle attached to the vehicle. This can include to accept calls, use navigation apps, skip a song, or accept or finish a trip as a rideshare driver. However, you must always have proper control of your vehicle.

Open and P2 licence holders can also use a phone hands-free if it's in a pocket of your clothing or a pouch you're wearing. However, you must not touch or look at the phone. It can only be operated using your voice.

All drivers can hold a phone when safely stopped to:

  • pay for goods and services, for example at a drive through
  • gain access to or from a road-related area, such as a car park
  • present a digital driver licence or other document to police when asked or
  • get a card or money out of a phone wallet for the above purposes.

You can find out more information about mobile phone rules here.

Female driver texting emojis on phone while driving

L's, P1's (under 25) and P2's

All Learners or Provisional licence holders who use a phone illegally while driving will receive a $1033 fine and four demerit points for the first offence.

Learners will lose their licence after just one mobile phone offence.

P-platers will lose their licence or face a one-year good driving behaviour period.

It is illegal for Learners and P1’s to use a phone in any way while driving. This includes using maps, Bluetooth and handsfree. If your phone is in a pocket of your clothing or a pouch you're wearing, you must not use it in any way. This includes touching it, looking at it or operating it with your voice. Passengers of these drivers also cannot use phones on loudspeaker.

What is allowed

P2 licence holders can use Bluetooth and functions like maps if the phone is hands free, for example in a cradle attached to the vehicle. However, you must always have proper control of your vehicle.

All drivers can hold a phone when safely stopped to:

  • pay for goods and services, for example at a drive through
  • gain access to or from a road-related area, such as a car park
  • present a digital driver licence or other document to police when asked or
  • get a card or money out of a phone wallet for the above purposes.

You can find more information about mobile phone rules here.

Bicycle rider sending message response while riding

Bicycles

Bicycle riders who use phones illegally while riding will receive a $1033 fine.

It is illegal to hold your phone in your hand or have it resting on any part of your body, such as your lap, while riding. This applies even when you're stopped in traffic or at the traffic lights. The phone doesn’t need to be turned on or in use for it to be an offence. You can view the Bicycles video here.

What is allowed

If you’re a bicycle rider, you can use your phone hands-free or when it is in a cradle. You can find more information on bicycle riders and mobile phone use here.

Distractions myths. Busted.

Let’s be clear, there’s no safe way to use your mobile phone behind the wheel. Here are a few myths we’re taking the time to bust for your own safety.

Male driver commenting on a social video while driving

Using my mobile phone while driving isn’t dangerous

Even the most advanced mathematician cannot calculate a safe distance, quite simply because it’s impossible to know how the other driver will react. They may need to brake in a hurry. Anything can happen. And if you’re looking at your phone, your reaction time will change too. Research shows a driver’s reaction time is comparable to a drink driver with a blood alcohol reading between 0.07 and 0.107.

Female driver texting emojis on phone while driving

Checking my mobile phone while stopped at traffic lights is safe and legal.

It’s illegal to use your phone at any time when you’re driving, unless you are safely and legally parked. Drivers are slower to react when using a mobile phone and will often take longer to respond to traffic signals or miss them completely. You could also be tempted to use your phone when you slow down to a stop in traffic or as you take off again – that’s even more dangerous.

Female driver scrolling through Instagram on phone while driving

If I drive slower, it’s safe to text.

The unexpected can happen at any time – and even the smallest distraction can be deadly. Even if your eyes are off the road for just 2 seconds, a vehicle travelling 60km travels 33 metres. And if you think slowing down to 40 makes it safer, you’re still driving blind for 22 metres. The average person’s time to react to something is 1.8 seconds. This means nearly 4 seconds can pass before the average driver can react to a hazard, increasing your risk of a serious crash.

Driver checklist

Before you get going, there are a few things you can do to take away the temptation of using your phone while driving.

  1. Activate ‘Do not Disturb While Driving’ for Apple phones or ‘Do not Disturb’ for Android phones before you get into the car.
  2. Set your GPS, or playlist before leaving home (Open and P2 licence holders only. See Learner and P1 restrictions below).
  3. Remind your passengers that you need to focus on the road. Make sure kids and pets are safely restrained.
  4. If you really need to make a call or send a message, pull over and park safely first.
Download the driver checklist [PDF, 207 KB]

How dangerous is it?

Distraction is more dangerous than you think. Find out how much you put yourself and others at risk when you look at your phone while driving.

Where to next?

Explore these popular road safety topics on StreetSmarts.

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