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Safe driving tips

Mobile phones

Using a mobile phone while driving impairs your driving performance through distraction and increases the risk of crashing by at least four times. The most common types of crashes associated with mobile usage are 'run-off-the-road' crashes and 'rear end' crashes.

Using a mobile phone while driving significantly impairs your:

  • reaction time
  • visual search patterns
  • ability to maintain speed and position on the road
  • ability to judge safe gaps in the traffic
  • general awareness of other road users.

If you need to use your mobile phone, stop and park safely where you will not endanger yourself and other road users.

Research shows that young drivers can be easily distracted and may experience difficulty in balancing the many demands on their driving - from perceptual, mental and physical tasks. Using a mobile phone while driving, even if you're just looking at a message, increases your risk of a crash by up to four times.

Avoid the temptation to multi-task when you drive. Don't look at your phone or talk to anyone.

Heads up!

Learner's Permit and P1 Provisional drivers are banned from using any type of mobile phone function while driving.  The mobile phone ban includes:

  • using hands-free mode including Bluetooth technology
  • loudspeaker operation
  • GPS
  • text messaging.

The dangers of using a mobile phone while driving

Using a mobile phone while driving leads to riskier decision making and distracts you in many ways:

  • Physical distraction of handling the phone while driving.
  • Visual distraction in having to take your eyes off the road.
  • Cognitive distraction like having a conversation and driving at the same time.
Riskier decision making Deciding when it is safe to turn in traffic is a complex task. Using a mobile phone while driving affects judgment and concentration and you may fail to choose a safe gap. When making a decision to turn across oncoming traffic, you also tend not to consider the environmental conditions such as, when it is raining or the roads are slippery. If you don't make safe turns you could crash.
Slower reactions You generally react slower when using a mobile phone, particularly when you're deep in conversation. You may take longer to respond to traffic signals or completely miss them.
Slower and less controlled braking During a mobile phone call your brake reaction time is slower, and you brake with more force and less control which results in shorter stopping distances available between yourself and the car in front.
Wandering out of your lane You're more likely to wander out of your lane when you're using a mobile phone, even on a straight road with little traffic.
Not being alert to your surroundings When using a mobile phone, you tend to spend less time checking your mirrors and what's going on around you. This affects your ability to monitor and negotiate traffic safely.

Heads up!

Safe driving tips for using a mobile phone:

  • Never read or send text messages while driving. It is obvious your eyes are not on the road!
  • Use voicemail instead of answering your phone while driving.
  • Pull over safely and park to make or receive a call.
  • Plan breaks in your trip for phone calls.
  • Tell your family and friends not to call when you know you'll be driving.
  • Never look up phone numbers while driving.

YouTube link - Mobile phone distractions

What the law says

In South Australia, Rule 300 (Use of Mobile Phones) under the Australian Road Rules details what is and isn't legally acceptable use of a mobile phone while driving.

Rule 300 states that:

  • If a person wishes to make or receive a call, including dialing a number, and needs to touch any part of the phone to do so, that 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 pouch they are wearing (the driver may touch the earpiece or headphone to operate the phone).
  • This does 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.

This rule does not apply to learner's permit and P1 licence holders. These drivers are not allowed to use any type of mobile phone function of any kind while driving.

More information

Road Traffic Regulations 1999 - 33(1)
MAC campaign

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