Set your phone, then leave it alone

Queensland drivers now face Australia’s toughest mobile phone penalties.

Queenslanders caught using handheld mobile phones while driving face the harshest penalties in the country.
 
Motorists caught using a handheld mobile phone will now be fined $1000 and receive four demerit points. If caught twice within a year, motorists face double demerit points and an additional $1000 fine.

In the first six days of enforcement, more than 200 (218) Queensland motorists were were busted – totalling $218,000 in fines.

The laws are even tougher on Learner and Provisional licence holders.
 
All Learners or Provisional licence holders who use a phone illegally while driving will receive a $1000 fine and four demerit points for the first offence.

Learners will lose their licence after just one mobile phone offence while P-platers will lose their licence or face a one-year good driving behaviour period.

It is illegal for Learners and P1 licence holders to use a phone in any way while driving. This includes using maps, Bluetooth and handsfree.

Passengers in the vehicle cannot use phones on loudspeaker. 

P2 licence holders can use Bluetooth and functions like maps if the phone is handsfree.

RACQ Manager Motoring Advice Joel Tucker said the increased fine, which is more than double the previous penalty of $400, was needed to curb the illegal behaviour.

“Phones have become a boredom killer but, unfortunately, they have also become a people killer,” Mr Tucker said.
“Alarmingly, many motorists’ priorities have shifted from getting to their destination safely to keeping up-to-date socially.”
Mr Tucker said motorists who used their mobile phones hands-free or in a cradle wouldn’t be affected by the new penalties.
 
“If you’re not holding a phone in your hand, the road rules don’t say you can’t use it,” Mr Tucker said.
 
“The rule is you can’t use any function of a phone that you’re holding in your hand while you’re driving.
 
“So, if you have voice controls, it's in a cradle or your phone is being used as a GPS or a driver aid, then the law doesn’t say you can’t do it.”
 
Mr Tucker said although it’s legal to use a handsfree device, it doesn’t mean it’s safe.
 
“Handsfree can be as dangerous as handheld,” Mr Tucker said.
 
“You’re four times as likely to have a crash if you’re using a mobile phone.
 
“The best advice is to set your phone to `do not disturb’.
 
“Whether it’s music or navigation, set everything up before you start driving and, once you reach your destination, you can catch up on your messages and social media.”
 
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the penalties were necessary to get the life-saving message through.
 
“Drivers using their phones illegally behind the wheel will pay a high price, but that penalty falls well short of the costs and trauma our community carries for those killed or injured in crashes caused by inattentive drivers,” Mr Bailey said.
 
“A driver’s response time while texting is comparable to that of a driver with a blood alcohol reading of between 0.07 and 0.10.
 
“Like drink-driving, drivers need to know that reaching for the phone to send a quick text or check social media when their eyes should be on the road is unacceptable.”

How the fines will affect you:

Open licence

Open licence holders caught using their phones illegally will receive a $1000 fine and four demerit points. The fine applies to anyone with an open licence including car and truck drivers and motorcycle riders.
 
For a second offence within 12 months, open licence holders will receive an additional $1000 fine and another eight demerit points. Two offences in the same year could cost a motorist their licence or place them on a one-year good driving behaviour period.       

Learner and provisional licence holders

All learner and provisional licence holders caught driving while using a phone will receive a $1000 fine and four demerit points on their first offence.
  • Learners caught using their phones while driving will lose their licence after one offence.
  • P-platers caught using their phones will lose their licence or face a one-year good driving behaviour period.
It is also illegal for learners and P1s to use a phone in any way while driving. This includes maps, Bluetooth or handsfree and passengers cannot use phones on loudspeaker.

Bicycles

Bicycle riders who use phones illegally while riding will receive a $1000 fine. It is illegal for a rider to use a phone in their hand while riding or stopped at traffic lights. Bicycle riders may use their phone handsfree or when it is in a cradle.

For a step-by-step guide on how to set your phone to do not disturb, watch the video below.