New regulations clarify appropriate mobile phone use by road users

By: Chris Smith

South Australian Road Safety Minister Carmel Zollo is reminding people that although new regulations clarify appropriate mobile phone use by

South Australian Road Safety Minister Carmel Zollo is reminding people that although new regulations clarify appropriate mobile phone use by road users, the main priority is staying in control behind the wheel.

Amendments to Australian Road Rule 300, aimed at clarifying our mobile phone rules, come into effect today.

"People can’t afford to be on our roads if they are being distracted by such things as inappropriate phone use," Zollo says.

"Your reaction time, ability to maintain correct speed and position on the road, ability to judge safe gaps in traffic and general awareness of other traffic, surroundings and road conditions can all be affected."

The amendment clarifies that:
  • If a person wishes to receive or make a call, including dialling a number, and needs to touch any part of the phone to do so, the phone must be mounted. (in a mounting commercially designed and manufactured for that purpose).
  • If the phone is being used via blue tooth, a headset or earphones without touching, holding or resting the phone on their body, the phone may be located anywhere in the vehicle, including in the driver’s pocket or a pouch they are wearing. (The driver may touch the earpiece or headphone to operate the phone.)
  • The amendment will not affect the driver’s freedom to hold the phone to make or receive calls, or use any other function of the phone, if the car is parked (but not stationary in a traffic queue or at lights)
  • It is an offence to create, send or look at a text, video message or email on a mobile phone.

However, the Minister warns that even if a hands-free device is being used, the onus is still on road users to make sensible decisions that allow them to maintain control of their vehicles.

"Anyone driving erratically – in whatever circumstances – can still be penalised for other offences, such as driving without due care or even dangerous driving," the Minister says.

"I appeal to all road users to show common sense.

"Many road users like to think they are in control of their vehicles at all times – but the fact is distractions can have disastrous consequences."

There are a few dos and don’ts even if your phone is hands-free.


  • Make sure your hands-free phone is set up and operational, before you start driving.
  • Keep conversations brief and don’t engage in complex or emotional conversations.
  • End the call if it is distracting you from driving.

  • Use the phone if you are in heavy traffic or if there is a hazard such as road works.
  • Use the phone in poor weather conditions.
  • Use the phone if you are overtaking, turning or if you are on a difficult (ie winding) stretch of road.

"Your priority on the road is to do all you can to be in control of your vehicle and drive to the conditions," the Minister says.

"It is much better to miss a phone call you really didn’t need to take, than to live with the consequences."

The penalty for using a hand held phone whilst driving is an expiation fee of $202 and 3 demerit points in South Australia.

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