Drivers may be allowed to use mobile phones behind the wheel in road rule overhaul

Drivers may be allowed to use mobile phones behind the wheel in road rule overhaul

A review of road rules has been told drivers should be allowed to use their phones behind the wheels, with South Australian motorists calling for the strict laws to be loosened.

Under the current legislation, drivers who are caught using handheld mobile phone on the road are liable to a $534 fine and three demerit points.

According to the National Transport Committee (NTC), taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds – to use your phone, adjust the radio or talk to a passenger – can be “particularly hazardous”.

“Drivers engage in non-driving activities every 96 seconds while behind the wheel,” said Gillian Miles, chief executive officer at the NTC.

“Distractions take our concentration off the road which means we may not have time to react to hazards.”

However, the Royal Automobile Association (RAA) of South Australia said the laws need to be updated to reflect the changing use of technology.

“The old legislation is very specific about managing distractions, but technology has moved beyond this,” Charles Mountain, RAA Senior Manager Road Safety told 10 daily.

Some of the submissions pointed out that many drivers rely on GPS navigation and phone payment methods at restaurant drive-thrus, despite the ban on touching phones in unparked vehicles in all states.

“That is just not sensible, to turn your engine off to pay with your phone,” Mountain said.

“It is important to acknowledge that phones are capable of more functions than before... such as music streaming.

“There needs to be understanding for all drivers about what a distraction is.”

A regulation impact statement will be delivered for transport ministers’ consideration in May 2020.