Can you really justify driving and texting?

Posted on 14 May 2012

Following a US man claiming that the woman texting him was also to blame when their text exchange resulted in a crash, here is a reminder to all drivers of just what the rules are surrounding the use of mobile devices in a car and the penalties for being caught texting, reading a text or using your mobile device whilst driving.

Whatever the circumstances you believe justify the reason for sending or reading text messages whilst driving, it is illegal to drive a vehicle whilst using a mobile phone and there is a significant fine and loss of three demerit points should you be caught doing so. It is also illegal to carry out phoning or texting whilst stopped at traffic lights or when your vehicle is stopped but not parked.

Whilst a hands free device can lessen the impact of making and receiving calls, it doesn’t make it safer to use a phone whilst driving. Concentration is still diminished and you are diverted from the proper control of your vehicle, the traffic situations around you and road conditions. Research from The Institute of Road Safety in the Netherlands found that “hands free phoning does not have a significant safety advantage over handheld phoning.” Other Australian studies carried out by State roads authorities have concluded that “using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous as it slows reaction times and interferes with a driver’s perception skills, increasing the chance of having a crash”.

For Learner drivers, P1 drivers and motorcycle riders, any use of a mobile device is banned, including hands-free or phones on speaker.

The RTA has this advice for drivers:-

If you must talk on a hands-free phone while driving:

  • Make sure it is a hands-free phone that is set up and working before you start driving.
  • Keep the conversation short. Don't engage in complex or emotional conversations.
  • Tell the person on the other end that you are driving and may have to end the call.
  • Never text message (SMS) while driving.
  • End the call if it is distracting you from driving.

A final tip to help keep you focused and safe whilst on the road - turn off your mobile phone whilst driving and retrieve your messages when you are parked and ready to concentrate.

Should you find yourself facing a Traffic Infringement or Court Attendance Notice, please contact our friendly team who can help you resolve the matter as quickly and effectively as possible.