distracted driving mobile phone
More stringent rules for distracted driving

Victoria is escalating its response to the scourge of distracted driving, now a significant threat to the safety of road users, especially people on bikes.

The new rules, which come into force on 31 March, extend existing mobile phone rules to cover modern technology such as in-built vehicle systems, mounted devices and wearable and portable devices such as smartwatches and tablets.

Learners and probationary drivers are at a much greater risk in their first years of driving so stronger conditions will apply, including not touching any portable device, taking phone calls or using voice control unless parked.

Motorists caught driving distracted will receive penalties of four demerit points and a $555 fine. Community awareness campaigns will run over the coming months to educate drivers on the devastating risks of distraction.

The full details are here.

And yes, the new rules apply to bike riders.

And riders and operators of electric scooters, recreational vehicles (such as people on skateboard and rollerblades) and electric personal transporters.

The move brings Victoria into line with the Australian Road Rules, which are intended to be adopted uniformly across Australia.

One third of drivers admit to using their phone illegally while driving and distraction is involved in at least 11 per cent of fatalities – equal to 20 people each year whose death is avoidable.

A two-second glance at a device means you are travelling blind for 28 metres while driving in a 50kmh zone – and the distance jumps to 55 metres when travelling at 100kmh.

As it tightens the rules on distraction, the Victorian Government continues preparations for the roll-out of new mobile phone and seatbelt detection camera technology that will help catch people using their mobile phones and not wearing their seatbelts while driving – a $33.7M investment.

It is estimated that the new cameras will prevent 95 crashes that result in injury or death per year.

These technologies involve AI-enabled camera systems that can capture high- resolution images of passing vehicles in all conditions, including poor weather and low light levels when distracted driving is even more dangerous.

The new camera technology will be operational on Victorian roads in coming months. A three-month warning period will apply from the technology’s activation before drivers face infringement and demerit penalties.

More information here.

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