Road Rule Amendments Come Into Effect On 1 March 2011

Road Rule Amendments Come Into Effect On 1 March 2011

Western Australia Minister for Police & Road Safety Rob Johnson

Changes To Mobile Phone Use Laws While Driving

Victor P Taffa

Amendments to Road Laws relating to the use of Mobile Phones and visual display units while driving come into effect from March 1, bringing Western Australia into line with other States.

Police and Road Safety Minister Rob Johnson said the changes aimed to clarify existing laws regarding mobile phone use, which had remained unchanged since 2001.

Mr. Johnson said the amendments to the Road Traffic Code 2000 also recognised that technology had significantly changed during the past decade and mobile phones now had additional capabilities, such as text and video messaging, emails and GPS.

“The new laws aim to reduce the number of serious crashes on our roads where driver distraction is a factor. They bring WA broadly in to line with the Australian Road Rules.” Mr. Johnson said.

“It is estimated that driver distraction plays a part in one third of serious crashes on WA roads, and the number of near misses is even higher.”

“The use of a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of being involved in a crash up to four times, so it is important that we have clear and up-to-date legislation governing the use of these devices, along with other new technology that has emerged.” Mr. Johnson said.

From March 1 this year, drivers will only be able to use a Mobile Phone to make or receive a call if the phone is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle, or if using a hands-free device.

It will be an offence for drivers to create, send or look at a text message, video message, email or similar communication while driving, regardless of whether the Phone is secured in a mounting or can be operated without touching it.

The GPS function of a Mobile Phone may be used by a driver as long as the Phone is secured in a mounting, and the driver does not touch the Phone (including the keypad or screen) at any time.

Any visual display unit (such as a GPS or other navigational device) must either be an integrated part of the vehicle’s design or secured in an approved mounting affixed to the vehicle.

The Minister said the changes were part of the eighth Australian Road Rules amendment package, which was approved by all Australian State and Territory Ministers early last year.

“These new laws are designed with safety in mind, for not only drivers, but their passengers and other innocent road users.” Mr. Johnson said.