Western Australia crack down on mobile phone usage

After last week's news of law changes in Victoria, designed to penalise traffic offenders, Western Australia is also planning on tightening its road laws.

The state is gearing up to create a clearer definition and stricter prohibitions against the use of mobile phones when driving.

The concern for a fleet manager will be that those employees using vehicles for business will be more tempted to turn to the devices when on the road, leading to increased fines and penalties.

The new regulations, set to come into effect over the holiday period of September 26 will see mobile phone users facing a fine of $400 and three demerit points if found to be operating a device while driving.

As well as punishing offenders, the new rules are set to become clearer as a preventative measure.

According to the WA Government's Office of Road Safety, drivers will be found in breach of the modified road law if they:

  • Hold the phone.
  • Enter or place anything into the phone, or send or look at anything that is in the phone.
  • Turn the phone on or off.
  • Operate any other function of the phone.

Drivers can use mobile phones in specific and regulated ways, including making phone calls if the phone is in a mounting device or is not demanding the driver's physical attention in any way.

In a media statement, Road Safety Minister Liza Harvey said: "There are now no longer any excuses; it is simply unacceptable to touch your mobile phone while driving.

"Using your mobile phone, running a red light and speeding are just some of the broad range of offences that will see an increase in fines and demerit points."

Fleet managers will need to be aware of the changes in order to educate their drivers on the dangers and illegality of mobile phone usage when on the road.

Those spending a lot of time on the road may be more tempted to pass their time in traffic by using mobile devices, though the new rules make it clear that this should be avoided.

For drivers whose job requires them to remain in contact with others, these clearer regulations should make it easier to work out a hands-free and legal method to do so.