In-attention whilst driving accounts for a large proportion of fatalities on our roads. Reports show that in Western Australia, between 2016 and 2020, 524 deaths were attributed to inattentive drivers, with mobile phone use while driving posing the greatest risk to road users.
Given the prevalence of mobile phone use whilst driving, the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA) is frequently amended and updated by subsidiary legislation such as the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) (“the Code”), increasing penalties and modernising definitions.
The modifications pose two new changes to the law under section 265(2) of the Code.
What does “use” mean?
The term “use” has been updated and is defined under section 265(1) of the Code to include:
- holding a phone;
- entering or placing anything into the phone, or sending or looking at anything that is in the phone;
- turning a phone on or off; and
- operating any other function of the phone.
What can you do?
While you are driving a vehicle, you are permitted to use your phone to listen to music, for maps/navigation and to make audio calls, however the following conditions must be observed:
- the mobile phone must be secured in a cradle; and
- you must not touch your mobile phone in any way.
What can’t you do?
Use of mobile phones while driving is regulated by section 265(2) of the Code and provides that a person must not use a mobile phone while a vehicle is moving or is stationary but not parked.
If you are operating an on-demand vehicle (such as a Taxi or Uber) you are limited to touching your phone only to accept or reject a trip if the following condition apply:
- the phone is secured in a cradle;
- you are not driving in a restricted area (such as school zones or freeways);
- you are not driving on a road with a speed limit of 80km/h or more; and
- you are driving past an emergency response vehicle during a temporary 40km/h slow down condition.
As of 1 September 2020, the WA Government modified the penalties under the Code, for anyone using their mobile phone while driving, reflecting its aims to protect WA road users from in-attention related crashes caused by mobile phone use.
- The penalty for touching your mobile phone (for the purposes of making an audio phone call) will attract a fine of $500 and 3 demerit points.
- The penalty for using your mobile phone for texting, emailing, accessing social media, taking photos, or watching videos on your mobile device will attract a fine of $1,000 and 4 demerit points.
At Kate King Legal our team of experienced criminal lawyers can assist you with your criminal charges where mental impairment is a factor. For urgent advice and assistance call us now on (08) 9467 3333 or click here to fill out an online enquiry.