Driving Distracted

Mobile phones are becoming a bigger part of our lives. A mobile is so much more now than just a device for making a phone call. Once we were only distracted by phone calls and texts while driving. Now it's the temptation to watch the latest YouTube video, read an email from a mate, update your Facebook status or 'tweet' the latest happenings.

And as they've become a bigger part of our lives, we find it harder and harder to live without them.

And the temptation to stay connected and updated leads to distractions in all areas of our lives - even those where it becomes plain dangerous.

Why is being distracted while driving so dangerous?

  • Using mobile phones can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the steering wheel, and their minds off the surrounding situation.
  • Being distracted while driving can also reduce your reaction time which affects your ability to anticipate and avoid hazards on the road.
  • Imagine a child stepping out onto the road if you happen to be distracted for a few seconds. The consequences are simply shocking.
  • Driving demands all of your attention and any other tasks that require you to share your concentration impacts your ability to drive safely.

Distracted driving is a leading cause of serious car crashes in South Australia. Inattention is reported to be the primary cause in nearly 30% of fatal crashes and 45% of serious injury crashes each year. Research shows that using a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of crashing by at least four times. The most common types of crashes associated with mobile usage are 'run-off-the-road' crashes and 'rear end' crashes.

Next time you get into your car, switch it off or to silent and leave it alone until the end of your journey. No matter how tempting it feels, nothing is more important than driving safely.

You can live without it.

What You Can Do.

  • The best time to use the phone is when you are not driving.
  • Switch your phone off or to silent when getting into the car so that you're not tempted to use it. Allow calls to go to message bank and return them after your journey has ended.
  • If you must make or receive a call then you should pull over to the kerb when and where it is safe to do so and put the car in 'park' or 'neutral' with the hand brake on before using the phone.

Don't let distractions into your car.

Mobile Phone laws

Mobile Phone laws

1. You cannot use a phone in a vehicle UNLESS it is being used to make/receive a call AND It is secured in a commercially-made cradle affixed to the vehicle

  • Is remotely operated (ie Bluetooth)
  • Affixed to the vehicle; or
  • Worn by the driver in the manner intended by the manufacturer
  • And the phone is NOT being held by the driver.

2. You cannot touch the body or screen of the phone, if the phone is not secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle

3. "Use", in relation to a mobile phone, includes the following:

  • holding the phone to, or near, the ear (whether or not engaged in a phone call);
  • creating, sending or looking at a text or video message on the phone;
  • turning the phone on or off;
  • operating any other function of the phone.

*Australian Road Rules REG 300, Use of Mobile Phones

Mobile phone laws - L and P1 drivers*

If you are a Learner or hold a P1 license, you must NOT use a mobile phone in a car at any time including hands free technologies

*Road Traffic (Road Rules - Ancillary and miscellaneous provisions) Variation Regulations 2009


(Penalties do not increase for subsequent offences)

Rule/SectionOffence CodeExpiationVictims of crimeTotalDemerit points
Use hand held mobile phone A544 $320 $60 $380 3
33(1) RTA Learner driver use mobile phone while driving M851 $320 $60 $380 3
33(1) RTA P1 driver use mobile phone while driving M852 $320 $60 $380 3

These penalties apply if you are caught using a mobile when driving, whether or not an incident has occurred.

In addition, if your driving is affected while using a mobile you can be charged by Police with the offence of driving without due care or dangerous driving. These offences can carry heavy penalties.

Expiations are correct as of 1 July 2016, these fees may change. Go to the SA Police website for for all current expiation fees

*SAPOL Traffic Training and Promotion

What Does 'Using' a Mobile Phone While Driving Mean?

What Does 'Using' a Mobile Phone While Driving Mean?

“Using" a phone includes:

  • Making or receiving a phone call
  • Sending or reading a text or picture message
  • Picking up the phone to check the time, see who's calling, see if there are any messages
  • Holding the phone in your lap on speaker or to access music or other multi-media
  • Taking a picture or video
  • Using any function that involves touching the phone

Hands Free Kits

Blue tooth and other hands free devices allow drivers to legally use a phone when driving, so long as:

  • It is secured in a commercially designed and manufactured phone cradle that is fixed to the vehicle or;
  • You are wearing a remotely operated device, such as a blue tooth device or ear piece, fixed to the vehicle or worn by the driver in the manner intended by the manufacturer.
  • You have a full license (L or P1 plate drivers may not use the phone at all)
  • The phone needs to be placed in the cradle, or the remote device set up ready for use, while the car is still parked.

While using a hands free kit properly is safer than a hand held phone, it can still cause problems, particularly:

  • In complex traffic situations like peak hour or around road works
  • In complex driving situations like overtaking or turning
  • On difficult stretches of road, such as winding roads
  • In poor weather, like rain or high wind where visibility is reduced

Talking to someone on a phone is different to talking to a passenger.

A passenger can see traffic conditions as well as you can and can stop talking when necessary. Someone on the phone can keep talking during an emergency, further distracting you.

The safest choice is not to use your phone when driving. Switch if off or to silent to help resist temptation and let phone calls go to message bank.

You can live without it.

L & P1 Plate drivers cannot use the phone at all, including hands free technology.