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Mobile phone laws in Australia

It can be tempting to pick up our mobile phones, or respond to a new notification, even while we’re driving. However, checking your mobile phone on the go can be a serious risk to your safety. Using a mobile phone while driving can increase your risk of an accident four-fold1. Even taking your eyes off the road for just 2 seconds doubles your risk of a crash2.
To prevent accidents on the road, each state and territory in Australia has implemented strict mobile phone laws. While the wording varies slightly, mobile phone rules are very similar across Australia. Penalties vary by location, and can be as severe as four demerit points and a $1000 fine.
Mobile Phone Road Rules

If you are a driver on your full licence, you are allowed to use your mobile phone in the car, as long as you meet the strict requirements laid out by the mobile phone rules.

You may only use your mobile phone if it is secured in a cradle affixed to your car, or it can be operated without touch, and only to2:

  • Make or receive audio phone calls
  • Use audio functions
  • Navigate

All other mobile phone use while driving is prohibited. This includes email, texting, playing games, taking photos or video, or using any other functions on your phone.

These mobile phone laws sound simple; however they can be stricter than you think. Watch out for the following:

  • Mobile phone laws still apply when your vehicle is stationary but not parked, for example when you are stopped at a traffic light2
  • You can be fined if your mobile phone is touching any part of your body, or even on your lap2
  • If you’re on your L or P1 licence, you are not permitted to use your mobile phone while driving at all in NSW, QLD, SA, TAS and VIC
  • If you’re on your P2 licence, you can use your mobile phone in accordance with these laws in most states. However, you’re still not permitted to use your phone while driving at all in NSW or QLD
  • These laws don’t just apply to mobile phones, but also include other distracting devices such as DVD players, computers, tablets, and smartwatches2.
Demerits and Fines for Mobile Phone Use

If you break any of the mobile phone laws outlined above, you’ll receive a minimum of 3 demerit points and a $344 fine, no matter what state or territory you are in. However penalties differ by state and territory, and in states such as Queensland you could be fined as much as $1000, while in NSW you can receive 5 demerit points instantly.

You can check the penalties for the states and territories you plan to travel in below:

Swipe to view more

State or Territory Penalty
NSW Fine: $349 ($464 in a school zone)
Demerits: 5 points
QLD Fine: $1000
Demerits: 4 points
NT Fine: $500
Demerits: 3 points
WA Fine: $500 - $1,000
Demerits: 3 points
SA Fine: Variable
Demerits: 3 points
ACT Fine: $447
Demerits: 4 points
TAS Fine: $344
Demerits: 3 points
VIC Fine: $496
Demerits: 4 points

The information in this article is current as of the 23rd April 2021. Laws and penalties may have changed since this article was created

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Please note the information in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any decisions based on this article
References
  1. Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety Queensland, Mobile phone use and distraction, viewed April 2021,  https://research.qut.edu.au/carrsq/wp-content/uploads/sites/296/2020/12/Mobile-Phone-Use-Distraction-1.pdf

  2. VicRoads, Mobile phones, technology and driving, viewed April 2020, https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/safety-and-road-rules/driver-safety/mobile-phones-and-driving

  3. South Australian Government, FAQs on mobile phone usage, viewed April 2020, https://www.dpti.sa.gov.au/towardszerotogether/Safer_behaviours/inattention/faqs_on_mobile_phone_usage

    The information on penalties comes from the following sources:

    Transport Tas, Traffic Offences – Full List, viewed April 2021, https://www.transport.tas.gov.au/licensing/offences/traffic_offences/lister_full

    Transport for NSW, Search Demerit Point Offences, viewed April 2021, https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/index.cgi?action=demeritpoints.form

    Vicroads, Demerit Point Offences, viewed April 2021, https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/licences/demerit-points-and-offences/demerit-offences

    Mylicence.sa, Offences and Penalties, viewed April 2021, https://mylicence.sa.gov.au/road-rules/offences-and-penalties

    Transport WA, Driving Offences, viewed April 2021, 
    https://www.rsc.wa.gov.au/Rules-Penalties/Browse/Mobile-Phones 

    NT.GOV.AU, Traffic Offences and Penalties, viewed April 2021, https://nt.gov.au/driving/driving-offences-and-penalties/traffic-offences-and-penalties

    Queensland Government, Demerit Points Schedule, viewed April 2021, https://www.qld.gov.au/transport/safety/fines/demerit/points
Disclaimer
This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL 234708 (“Allianz”). Information contained in this article is accurate as at 23rd April 2021 and may be subject to change. In some cases information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way. Any opinions expressed constitute our views at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither Allianz, nor its employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy or accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in this article.

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