Mobile phone changes on the way

New laws will be introduced imposing restrictions on motorists using mobile phones while driving

February 3, 2011

New laws to be introduced next month in Western Australia will restrict motorists from using mobile phones will driving.

Amendments to the Road Traffic Code will ban drivers from making a call on a mobile unless it is secured in a mounting device or is equipped with a hands-free device.

From March 1, drivers face a $250 fine and three demerit points if they they are caught sending or looking at a text message, video message, email or similar communication while driving.

The ban applies to a phone regardless of whether it is secured to a mounting device or can be operated without touching it.

The GPS function on phones can only be used as long as the driver does not touch the device and it is secured in the vehicle.

Those caught illegally using their mobile phone while driving can also be charged by police with reckless, dangerous or careless driving.

"The new laws aim to reduce the number of serious crashes on our roads where driver distraction is a factor," Police and Road Safety Minister Rob Johnson says.

Johnson has released a fact sheet
outlining the changes. A driver will be able to touch a phone to receive a call if it is securely mounted in the vehicle.

"If the phone can be operated without touching it, the phone may be located anywhere in the vehicle, including in a pocket in the driver’s clothing or in a pouch worn by the driver," the fact sheet says.

"The driver may touch the hands-free controller, ear piece or headset to operate the phone."

The amendments were made to reflect the changing nature of mobile phones, which now allow users to surf the internet, listen to music and watch movies.

"It is estimated that driver distraction plays a part in one third of serious crashes on WA roads and the number of near misses is even higher," Johnson says.

He says the new laws bring Western Australia into line with other states.

Click here to download the fact sheet.

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