Navigating Australian Laws on Mobile Phone Use While Driving

Have you ever been stuck in an Australian traffic queue, your phone buzzing with an important call, and wondered if you could sneak a quick chat?

You’re not alone. Many of us have grappled with the gray areas around mobile phones and driving.

But the reality is, these regulations aren’t so ambiguous after all. The Australian laws for using mobile phones while driving are pretty clear-cut.

Mobile Phone Use While Driving


In this deep dive, we’ll unlock everything from how to use your GPS without earning demerit points to why texting at traffic lights is still off-limits. We’ll even compare different rules for provisional drivers versus full license holders.

Sounds intriguing?

Trust me, you’ll want to stay tuned. Getting a grip on these road rules could be the difference between safety and risk.

Understanding the Mobile Phone Rules for Drivers in Australia

Figuring out the regulations for driving on Australian roads can be intimidating, particularly when using cell phones while in motion. Violations of the mobile phone rules can result in severe penalties, so it’s important to be aware of what constitutes illegal usage.

The guidelines on mobile phone use are stringent across all territories, including Western Australia and Northern Territory. But they’re there for a good reason – safe driving is paramount.

Australia’s Stand on Using Mobile Phones While Driving

To maintain safe road conditions, Australian laws are strict regarding drivers using their mobile phones. Certain restrictions apply no matter where you are — at traffic lights or stuck in a traffic queue — if you’re behind the wheel of a car (even parked).

Australia’s National Transport Commission states that any form of text or video messaging during operation is strictly prohibited. 

Stat 1: You’re four times more likely source link here to have an accident when interacting with your hand-held mobile device while driving.

Making Calls And Navigating Safely

You might wonder: “Can I make calls?” Yes. If your phone is securely mounted within view but not obstructing vision – think commercially designed holder affixed firmly in place – then making or receiving audio calls through the speaker function won’t land you into trouble. 

Stat 2: However, remember that you’re still two times more likely to be involved in an accident if you’re on a phone call while driving. Source link here. So use your judgment and keep calls short and necessary.

The same rule applies to navigation apps. Are they skipping songs on Spotify? Not a problem. As long as the mobile phone function doesn’t require touch or video operation, it’s all systems go.

Beware of Demerit Points.

You don’t want to collect demerit points. Using your mobile phone while driving can be costly in South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Legal Mobile Phone Use in Cars

In Australia, road rules for mobile phone use while driving are quite stringent. But did you know there are legal ways to make or receive calls and even use GPS navigation apps? Yes, it’s true. You need the right setup and follow certain guidelines.

Using Mobile Phones Hands-Free

A key aspect of legal mobile phone function involves using your device hands-free. This means securing your phone in a commercially designed holder or cradle to the car. These holders keep your device stable so you can operate it without physically holding onto it.

The design is crucial here – commercially designed holders ensure that devices don’t become airborne projectiles during sudden stops or accidents. When shopping for a holder, make sure it’s up to the job of keeping your device secure.

Besides this practical safety feature, securing your phone allows you to legally perform various functions like playing music or receiving audio from navigation apps. And all these benefits come with no increase in crash risk.

Making and Receiving Calls While Driving

Things get interesting when we talk about making and receiving calls while driving safely (and legally). If mounted correctly on a cradle affixed securely within reach but not obstructing view, Australian law lets drivers touch their phones briefly (in some states), to answer or end a call.

This applies only if you can do it without adjusting your driving position. So, remember – if reaching for your phone makes you shift in your seat, it’s better to let the call go and return it when parked safely.

Receiving audio phone calls through Bluetooth is another safe and legal way to stay connected on the road. It allows hands-free operation, keeping both hands on the wheel where they belong. Remember that these guidelines help keep us safe by reducing the crash risk associated with distracted driving.

you’re using these apps safely. Please don’t fiddle with your phone while driving; it’s risky. Set up the destination before driving, and let voice navigation guide you. Stay safe.

Prohibited Mobile Phone Use While Driving

In Australia, there’s much more to the mobile phone rules than simply not texting while driving. Certain phone functions are outright illegal when you’re behind the wheel.

The Dangers of Texting and Driving

Sending text messages on your mobile phone while driving is like playing Russian roulette with road safety. Your eyes leave the road for an average of five seconds each time you send a text. If you’re traveling at 60km/h, that’s enough time to travel over 80 meters completely blind.

This distraction significantly affects reaction times and increases crash risk. Using a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of an accident by fourfold.

Social Media Use on the Road

If texting wasn’t dangerous enough, let’s talk about social media. With constant notifications from Facebook, Instagram or Twitter vying for our attention, it can be hard to resist checking in mid-drive. However, doing so can lead us into risky territory.

Emailing social media posts may seem harmless because we do it all day, but consider this: every second spent updating status or uploading photos equates to another moment where your eyes aren’t focused on road conditions ahead – creating a huge potential hazard. Avoid this habit entirely – no tweet or post is worth risking lives over.

But what if you need help navigating? Can I use my GPS app?

Legal Mobile Phone Use in Cars

Note: The following advice applies only when safely stopped, not while driving or stopped at traffic lights.

Using Mobile Phones Hands-Free

Good news for directionally challenged drivers: using your phone’s GPS function is legal. But there’s a catch – the device must be securely mounted in a commercially designed holder affixed to your car. You can’t touch the screen unless it’s necessary and safe.

Mobile Phone Rules for Different Licence Holders

In Australia, the road rules concerning mobile phone use vary based on your licence status. Understanding these differences is crucial to staying within the law and maintaining safe driving practices.

Rules for Provisional Licence Holders

The rules are quite strict if you’re a provisional driver in South Australia or other regions. Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is strictly prohibited. This ban includes making or receiving calls, even when stopped at traffic lights or stuck in a traffic queue.

If caught violating this rule, not only do you face hefty fines but also demerit points on your licence which can lead to its suspension. That text message or social media notification isn’t worth it.

You may be wondering about GPS navigation apps and music functions. Well, as per Australian laws, they, too, are off-limits unless your vehicle is safely parked outside of any road-related area, such as a car park or by the side of the road. For more information on these laws, please refer to the “Rules for Full Licence Holders” section.

Rules for Full Licence Holders

Moving onto full licence holders, their restrictions aren’t as severe but still need careful attention.

According to New South Wales government site guidelines, a key difference lies in how they can use their phones hands-free while driving – whether through Bluetooth capabilities, voice commands, or features like auto-replying text messages. But remember, folks. You must ensure your device is securely mounted into a commercially designed holder affixed to the vehicle and not just tossed on the passenger seat.

For all drivers, video calls are a big no-no. They’re just too risky. Even if you’re stopped in traffic or idling at a stoplight, waiting until your destination before engaging in video communication is better. Check out this excellent resource from RACQ for more on safe driving practices.


In Australia, using a mobile phone while driving is illegal unless you use hands-free or voice-activated features.


If you're fully licensed, and your phone is secured in an approved holder, touching it for essential functions like navigation is legal in New South Wales.


A considerable portion of Aussie drivers confess to this dangerous habit. However, exact percentages fluctuate based on the survey and demographic specifics.


Nope. Even if stopped at lights, holding your mobile device at all when behind the wheel isn't allowed under current Australian laws.