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Mobile phones, technology & driving

Using a mobile phone or other device, like a Smartwatch, while driving or riding can be distracting, increasing your chance of being involved in a crash or near crash. Picture Courtesy: Deccan Chronicle

Using a mobile phone or other device, like a Smartwatch, while driving or riding can be distracting, increasing your chance of being involved in a crash or near crash. Looking at or touching a device at the same time as being in control of a vehicle is particularly dangerous. 

Victoria’s mobile phone rules

Learner, P1 and P2 drivers

Learner, P1 and P2 drivers must not use a mobile phone (hand-held or hands-free) for any function while driving (including while stationary but not parked).

Young drivers are over-represented in serious road crashes.

Mobile phones and other mobile devices (e.g. DVD players, tablet computers, Smartwatches) are major sources of distraction for young drivers, especially as these drivers are still building experience and developing skills.

Remember, all probationary drivers who reach 5 demerit points may incur a licence suspension.

Fully licensed car drivers

Using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited, except to make or receive a phone call or to use its audio/music functions provided the phone:

  • is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle, or
  • can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone, and the phone is not resting on any part of the driver’s body.

Using a phone as a navigational device/GPS while driving is prohibited unless it is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle. All other functions (including video calls, texting and emailing) are prohibited.

Motorcycle riders

The mobile phone rules for fully licensed car drivers also apply to motorcycle riders who hold a full car licence. However, riders who have held the motorcycle licence for less than three years are not permitted to use a mobile phone for any function while riding (including while stationary but not parked). Riders who hold a Learner, P1 or P2 licence are not permitted to use a mobile phone for any function while riding (including while stationary but not parked) either.

All motor vehicle drivers

All drivers face tough penalties for illegal use of a mobile phone or interacting with other units that have visual displays while driving (e.g. DVD players or tablet computers) that are not driver’s aids.

The penalties are 4 demerit points and a $476 fine.

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. Research shows that the behaviour  of a manual or visual distraction whilst driving causes crashes and near misses.

Rider of a bicycle or animal, or a person travelling in or on a wheeled recreational device, or the driver of a vehicle that is not a motor vehicle

Using a mobile phone is prohibited, except to make or receive a phone call or to use its audio/music functions provided the phone:

  • is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle, or
  • can be operated by the rider without touching any part of the phone, and the phone is not resting on any part of the riders’ body but can be in a pocket.

Using a phone as a navigational device/GPS while riding is prohibited unless it is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle. All other functions (including video calls, texting and emailing) are prohibited.

The penalty is a fine of $476 applies. Demerit points do not apply.

Smartwatches

Smartwatches linked to phones or other devices perform a range of functions.  Some of these functions should not be used while driving because they are covered by the road rules that limit using mobile phones or visual display units. Drivers should therefore avoid using Smartwatches while driving.

When a Smartwatch is worn by a driver it should not be used while driving for making or receiving phone calls, navigation, music, text or video messaging, email or social media (e.g. Facebook and Twitter).

Text or video messaging, email, social media use or similar communications should not be undertaken regardless of whether the Smartwatch is worn by the driver or not.

Fully licensed drivers may still use a Smartwatch provided it is not worn, and used as either a:

  • driver’s aid (for example, as a navigation device)
  • music player
  • mobile phone to make or receive phone calls

Smartwatches can also be used if the driver does not touch anything on the Smartwatch (for example, making and receiving calls needs to be hands-free via Bluetooth or similar means), and that it is secured in a commercially designed mounting affixed to the vehicle (this may be unavailable).

Safe driving tips for mobile phones and other devices

Observe these tips to stay safe on the road:

  • If your phone has an app or function that prevents distraction while driving, you can use that.
  • Consider putting your phone on silent and out of reach, or turn it off.
  • Divert all calls to voicemail.
  • Pull over safely and park to make or receive a call.
  • Plan breaks in your trip for phone calls.
  • Tell your family and friends not to call when you know you’ll be driving.
  • If you are using your phone hands free, warn callers you are driving and may have to end the call.
  • Don’t make calls in heavy traffic, poor road conditions or bad weather.
  • Never look up phone numbers.
  • Never read or send text messages.
  • Don’t use Smartwatches or other similar devices.
  • Remember, taking your eyes off the road for 2 seconds or more doubles your crash risk.

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.

Sourcehttps://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/safety-and-road-rules/driver-safety/mobile-phones-and-driving