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Tough new mobile phone penalties for WA drivers

The WA Government has announced tough new, two tiered penalties for drivers caught using mobile phones illegally on WA roads.

12 Feb 2020
From 1 July this year, drivers caught holding or touching their phone to make a voice call will receive an increased penalty of a $500 infringement and three demerit points.

A higher penalty of a $1000 infringement and four demerit points will apply to drivers who create a text, watch a video, use video chat, use their navigation app while driving, functions that can result in a high level of driver distraction.

Road Safety Council chairman Iain Cameron welcomed the decision as a vital step in reducing the number of distracted drivers on WA roads.

“These new penalties reflect the cognitive load that making a phone call and interacting with friends and family through text, video or social media has on a driver,” said Mr Cameron.

“Drivers need to have their mind as well as their eyes on the road, and as much as we think we can, we cannot do two things at once well.

“This law reform is about ensuring that all drivers and riders are aware of the level of distraction and risk that comes with using a mobile phone illegally on the road.”

In 2019, 19 per cent of all road fatalities in Western Australia have been attributed to inattention, of which mobile phone use is included, but also includes drivers whose minds were not on the task of driving at the time of the crash.

“The evidence is hard and fast; driving while distracted has deadly consequences,’’ said Mr Cameron.

“In fact, last year saw a 48 per cent increase in the number of people killed in inattention-related crashes on WA roads compared to the previous five-year average.

“There is no excuse for anyone to use a mobile phone while driving, unless that use is within the law to make or receive a call on a phone that is securely mounted in the car.

“Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds at 60km/h, is the same as driving 33 metres while blindfolded, while at 100km/h, you’ll be driving blindfolded for 55 metres.

These reforms include changing the regulations to enable a safe and appropriate use of technology for dispatching for rideshare drivers.  However, all these drivers are reminded that the current laws still apply until the changes come into effect in July.

Any driver can set their mobile phone as a navigational tool prior to their journey, and look at the screen to follow their route, but they cannot touch the screen to change route or use any other function of the navigational tool while the vehicle is moving or stationary but not parked.

The new penalties apply to illegal use of a mobile phone, not illegal use of in-car visual display units.

Visit our Your Safety pages for more information driver distraction.
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