Photo by Alexandre Boucher
From the 1st September, Western Australia will introduce new stricter penalties for drivers caught using a mobile phone whilst driving, bumping up the existing $400 and three demerit point fine to a whopping $1000 plus four demerit points.
The increased fines bring WA in line with QLD as having the equal highest mobile phone penalties for drivers in Australia. With mobile phones becoming more and more ingrained in our daily functions, distracted driving has fast become one of the biggest concerns for road safety. In 2019 almost 12,000 motorists in WA alone were caught using their mobile phones while driving, prompting the government to take action by enforcing these stricter measures.
"We need to change the culture of many drivers. We've done it before with drink driving, we've done it with seat belts and speeding. Now we are doing it with mobile phones."
The new $1000 fines will apply to anyone texting, emailing, watching video content, accessing social media or using the internet while driving a car, motorbike or cycling.
Drivers caught holding or touching their phone to make a voice call will receive a lesser penalty of $500 and three demerit points. This includes checking your phone when stationary at lights or stuck in gridlock traffic. Drivers are only allowed to touch their phone while it is mounted in a cradle to accept or end a voice call while driving.
Do you use your phone as a navigation tool? An important tip to know is that unless your vehicle is parked, it is illegal to touch the screen to change the route or use any other function of the navigational tool. Once in motion, you are legally only allowed to glance at the screen to follow the route. Restricted license drivers cannot use their phones at all while behind the wheel, even with hands-free or Bluetooth functions.
Across Australia, mobile phone laws are enforced by the local police force and can be captured on mobile phone detection cameras. Although the fine amount differs per state, many of the rules are the same across Australia.
Curious to know what mobile phone laws and penalties are in your state or territory? Below is a breakdown of mobile phone driving penalties that apply with links provided so you can double-check all the relevant information you need to know about using your phone when driving.
$349 + five demerit points, $464 + five demerit points in school zones. Increases to 10 demerit points during double demerit periods
$1000 + four demerit points. Double demerit points apply for second or subsequent mobile phone offences committed within 1 year after an earlier offence.
$496 + four demerit points.
$480 + three demerit points for handheld phone use, $589 fine + four demerit points for the driver using mobile device for messaging, social networking, mobile application or accessing the internet.
$534 + three demerit points.
$500 + three demerit points.
$336 + three demerit points.
$500 + three demerit points for touching or holding a mobile phone to make receive or end a voice call, $1000 + four demerit points for creating, sending or looking at a text, email, social media, photo, video or similar.
It’s a proven fact that using a mobile phone while driving can be distracting. Taking your eyes off the road for just 2 seconds or more doubles your crash risk. If you need your phone handy in the car for work purposes make sure you get yourself a good dash mount or holder and get up to speed with using Bluetooth and voice commands on your mobile. It could save your life and your hip pocket.