Since mobile smartphones have made their appearance it has become a major killer for many who use them in the wrong place and wrong way. You must have heard stories as to how taking selfies have taken many lives. Similarly using mobile while driving has become the cause of road accidents killing many people.
Using Mobile while driving attracts fine
In a 2011 Australian Government survey of motorists found that 59 per cent reported using their mobile phones while driving, with 31 per cent of drivers reading and 14 per cent sending text messages on the road. But fines are increasingly steep for this infringement in states across Australia and you could even be doing something wrong without knowing it.
Can use mobile to use a GPS
While the law slightly varies across states, you are only allowed to use a GPS like Google Maps on your smartphone if it is in a cradle device, and it might have to be commercially produced and the cradle must not obscure your view of the road. That means you can be fined for having your phone sitting in your lap, handling it or simply having it unlocked on the passenger seat next to you.
In NSW, Victoria and South Australia, the cradle must be commercially produced if you’re using a GPS app, making a call or playing music. However, in Victoria and South Australia, learner and P1 drivers can’t operate phones at all. Learner and provisional drivers cannot use phones at all while driving in the Northern Territory as well.
Use of phone while driving is an offence
While you’re on the right side of the law if the phone is sitting in a cradle or hands-free device, that doesn’t really mitigate the greater risk of a crash.
A study conducted in Western Australia in 2005 showed using a mobile phone while driving increased the likelihood of a crash four-fold, irrespective of whether a hands-free device was being used – and that was before the iPhone came along. However a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in the US this year found no added risk for drivers who have a hands-free phone conversation while driving.
How to avoid the temptation to use mobile on roads?
In a bid to tackle the issue of distracted driving, Apple recently rolled out a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature. When you turn it on, it detects when you are driving, and text messages and other notifications are silenced or limited. You can, however, ask Siri to read replies to you.
You can take incoming calls from any phone that is connected to a car Bluetooth system or a hands-free accessory.
Google’s Pixel phones have a similar feature while a free Driver Detective app for Android phones does the same thing: It detects when you are in a moving vehicle and toggles Do Not Disturb on, silencing alerts for the duration of the drive and resuming normal operation after you exit the vehicle.
How mobile phone rules could cost drivers hefty fines in Australia?
- In June 2019, Queensland’s state government announced a proposal that could see drivers fined $1000 and have their licence suspended for a second offence if they’re caught using their mobile in the car.
- South Australia had the previous highest fine for mobile phone usage behind the wheel. The state’s fine is currently $554 and motorists will receive three demerit points.
- In NSW, the penalty for illegally using a phone while driving is $344 and five demerit points.
- In the Northern Territory, the fine has increased from $250 to $500, while drivers will cop three demerit points for the offence.
- In Western Australia, motorists will receive a fine of $400 and three demerit points.
- Meanwhile, those the offenders in Tasmania face a fine of $336 and three demerit points.
The fine for illegal mobile phone use is $344, or $457 if detected in a school zone. There is a five demerit point penalty for illegal mobile phone use, which increases to 10 demerit points during double demerit periods.
Learners can lose their licence on using mobile
Learner and provisional P1 licence holders will exceed their demerit point threshold and lose their licence if caught illegally using their mobile phones. All learner and provisional P1 and P2 licence holders will exceed their demerit point threshold and lose their licence if they use a mobile phone during a double demerit period.
These penalties apply to both camera-detected offences and infringements issued by NSW Police.
Mobile phone detection program in Australia
The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has launched the world’s first road safety program. It will target illegal mobile phone use by drivers through the use of fixed; and mobile trailer-mounted camera systems.
The new camera systems in 2019 caught over 100,000 drivers illegally using a phone. For the first three months of the new enforcement program, drivers caught by a mobile phone detection camera will receive a warning letter. Following this period, the penalty for offending drivers is five demerit points and a A$344 fine, rising to A$457 in a school zone, with 10 points added during double demerit periods.
Mobile phone payments behind the wheel are legal
NSW Police will continue to enforce illegal mobile phone use and issue infringements as part of regular operations during the warning phase of the camera program. At the same time, the NSW Government has legalized mobile phone payments from behind the wheel, with drivers now permitted to use their phone as a digital wallet as long as the vehicle is stationary and off-road, in a car park, drive-through or driveway.
The NSW Government’s new safety program comes after a six-month trial on Sydney’s motorway network of the Heads-Up camera system developed by Australian technology company Acusensus The Heads-Up detection system, which operates both day and night and in all weather conditions, uses two high-definition cameras to capture images of the license plate and the front-row cabin space of all vehicles to detect illegal mobile phone use.
AI technology used to detect offering drivers
The system uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically review images and detect offending drivers, and exclude images of non-offending drivers from further action. Images that the automated system considers likely to contain a driver illegally using a mobile phone are verified by authorized (human) personnel.
The program will progressively expand to perform an estimated 135 million vehicle checks on NSW roads each year by 2023. Whether you’re driving on a major highway or an isolated road in the bush, there’s no excuse for using your phone illegally; and now, there’s a much greater chance of getting nabbed. Click here to know more about mobile rules while driving in Australia