Australia doubles down on fines for illegal phone use

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Words: NZ Autocar
17 Feb 2020

WA is joining Queensland in raising fines for motorists using their mobile phones illegally while driving.

From July 2020 an instant fine of $1000 and four demerit points will apply for texting, emailing, using social media, watching videos or accessing the internet while driving. That’s up from the current $400 fine and three demerit points.

Touching your mobile phone while stopped at traffic lights or holding the phone while taking a call will incur a penalty of $500 and three demerit points in the state.

Why the change? Last year 31 people were killed on WA roads as a result of driver inattention. That’s one in five road fatalities in the state caused by distraction.

In the past five years, WA Police had nabbed 77,000 drivers using their phones illegally. Road Safety Minister, Michelle Roberts, said "I want to make it clear to motorists that using your mobile phone to text or read emails or FaceTime while you're driving is incredibly dangerous."

Road Safety Council chairman, Iain Cameron, said there had been a 48 per cent increase in the number of people killed in WA as a result of distracted driving compared with the previous five-year average".

Since Feb 1 2020, Queensland Police have issued 218 fines of $1000 for misuse of phones while driving.

Most of the other states have fiscal penalties half that of WA or Queensland, though demerit points are similar.

In New Zealand the fine is $80 and 20 demerit points.

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