Car driver using mobile phone
Review of distracted driving and device use rules underway

A review into Australia's road rules regarding distracted driving that may result in a blanket ban on device use is gathering support.

In December last year, the National Transport Commission (NTC) announced a review into the effectiveness of Australia's current road rules that relate to device use and distraction.

The NTC said that the current road rules are dated and have not kept up with advances in technology and how people use devices while driving.

While you cannot send an SMS or hold your phone and make a call, not all potentially distracting uses are banned. Current rules also do not dictate how modern devices such as smart watches and glasses can be used. 

"The road rules are silent on which behaviours associated with distraction should be avoided or minimised. It is also not clear whether the use of newer technologies, like wearable devices, are regulated by the existing road rules," said NTC Acting Chief Executive, Dr Geoff Allan.

The review now has support from the RACV, who today told The Age that rules need to be reformed and that currently legal uses of phones can still be distracting.

Making calls while driving "can still be dangerous as eyes and attention are away from the road," said RACV safety and education manager Elvira Lazar.

In 2018, government agency BITRE warned that distracted driving will cause Australia's road toll to increase, which prompted Bicycle Network to call for the development of mobile phone blocking technology.

Distracted driving can be so dangerous for people who ride bikes – just a few seconds of inattention can end in disaster.

Late last year 24-year-old woman Emma Kent received a prison sentence for driving into and killing bike rider Gareth Davies while she was trying to connect her phone to her car stereo.

Despite the known consequences, people still don't seem be able to avoid the temptation to use their devices illegally. A recent operation conducted by Victoria police on bicycles recently nabbed 415 distracted drivers.

The NTC has released an issues paper Developing technology-neutral road rules for driver distraction and is asking for public consultation.

Bicycle Network will make a submission to the NTC. When riding among motor traffic we can see just how often people use mobile phones and devices while driving and we know the pain it causes people when it goes wrong.

Click here to see other stories from Bicycle Network about distracted driving


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