Leave your phone alone

From 1 February 2020, the penalties for using a mobile phone illegally while driving or riding are increasing to a $1,000 fine and 4 demerit points. Click here to find out more about the new mobile phone penalties.

So if you've got into the potentially lethal and illegal habit of checking your phone when you're behind the wheel, it's time to take away the temptation.

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

You can set up 'Do Not Disturb While Driving' to automatically activate every time you drive.

You won't receive any messages until you arrive at your destination and if someone has sent you a text, they will receive an automated response to let them know you're driving. You'll still be able to access maps and music – just remember to set these things up before you drive off.

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.

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]

A reminder for Learner and P1 drivers under 25

Remember that it’s illegal for you to use any function on a mobile phone including blue tooth or hands free. Your passengers also can’t use a mobile phone's loudspeaker function.

More information on mobile phone rules and restrictions.

Using your phone illegally while driving will cost you 3 demerit points and a $400 fine. Double demerit points apply for second or subsequent mobile phone offences committed within 1 year after an earlier offence. The max court imposed fine is $2669. Find out more about penalties on our website.

It’s illegal to use a mobile phone in your hand when you’re driving – even if you’re stopped in traffic. You can’t hold your phone next to or near your ear, text or use any function. Learner and P1 drivers under 25 have additional restrictions – they are not allowed to use blue tooth or any other phone function, like maps. Find out more about mobile phone restrictions on our website.

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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