The new penalties will also make the distinction between drivers illegally making an audio call and using their phone in other ways.
Anyone caught texting, emailing, using social media, watching videos or accessing the internet or mobile phone app while in control of a vehicle can face a $1000 fine and four demerit points.
Drivers or riders holding a phone during a voice call face fines of $500 and three demerit points.
In Western Australia, you can legally touch your mobile phone while driving or riding to answer or end a voice call, but the phone must be in a mounting secured to the vehicle.
The tougher infringements also apply to cyclists.
The new legislation also includes an amendment to allow on-demand transport drivers to legally touch their phone being used as a dispatch system to accept, decline or end a job. But only if the phone is placed in a mounting secured to the vehicle.
However, on-demand transport drivers cannot do so if they are driving:
- On a freeway;
- In a school zone that is in operation;
- If the driver is approaching or passing a stationary incident response vehicle (SLOMO situation); or
- Is on a roadway with a speed limit of 80kmh or more.
Previously on-demand transport drivers were not allowed to touch a phone that was being used as a dispatch system.
“In 2019, 31 people were killed on WA roads as a result of inattention, which includes mobile phone use, so the message is crystal clear – distracted driving can be deadly”, said Road Safety Commissioner Adrian Warner.
“The inconvenience of having to pay a fine if you are caught doing the wrong thing is nothing compared to the potential devastation and personal tragedy of killing or seriously injuring someone because you weren’t concentrating on driving.
“The higher infringement reflects that it is very dangerous to be texting or reading emails or making video calls or surfing the net while you are driving.
“So please, unless your phone is on hands-free and sitting in its cradle, don’t be tempted to pick it up. Keep your eyes on the road, drive with courtesy to the conditions and we will all have safer journeys in Western Australia,” says Mr Warner.