Mobile phones, technology & driving

On 31 March 2023, new road rules were introduced regulating the use of a range of portable, mountable, wearable and inbuilt devices while driving a vehicle or riding a motorbike.

Using a mobile phone or other device, like a Smartwatch, while driving or riding can be distracting, increasing your chance of being involved in a crash or near crash. Looking at or touching a device at the same time as being in control of a vehicle is particularly dangerous.

Victoria’s mobile phone rules

Learner, P1 and P2 drivers

Learner, P1 and P2 drivers must NOT use a portable device, such as a mobile phone that is not mounted securely in the vehicle, for any function while driving (including while stationary but not parked).

Young drivers are over-represented in serious road crashes.

Mobile phones and other mobile devices (e.g. DVD players, tablet computers, Smartwatches) are major sources of distraction for young drivers, especially as these drivers are still building experience and developing skills.

Remember, all probationary drivers who reach 5 demerit points may incur a licence suspension.

Fully licensed car drivers

A fully licensed driver can use a phone to make or receive a phone call, to use its audio/music functions or perform a navigational (GPS) or intelligent highway vehicle system (in vehicle warning system) function but only if the phone:

  • is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle, or
  • can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone, and the phone is not resting on any part of the driver's body.

All other functions (including video calls, texting, emailing, task management, photography, social media, shopping and share economy apps) are prohibited.

Using a mobile phone on a motorcycle

Mobile phone rules for fully licensed car drivers also apply to motorcycle riders who hold a full car licence. A fully licensed motorcyclist can use a phone to make or receive a phone call, or to use its audio/music or navigational (GPS) functions but only if the phone:

  • is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle, or
  • can be operated by the rider without touching any part of the phone.

All other functions are prohibited.

For fully licensed riders, the use of ear buds is permitted if the phone is in a cradle or if the phone is used hands-free, and only using the above functions. However, we strongly recommend for riders’ safety that motorcyclists do not touch the phone or change music whilst riding, as it is highly distracting and may result in a crash.

Riders who have held their motorcycle licence for less than three years are not permitted to use a mobile phone in any manner while riding (including while stationary but not parked). Similarly, riders who hold a Learner, P1 or P2 licence are also not permitted to use a mobile phone in any manner while riding (including while stationary but not parked).

These rules apply to novice riders who wish to use GPS or similar technologies on a mobile phone, with or without the use of earbuds. That is, novice riders are NOT PERMITTED to use the GPS, earbuds or any phone function.

Stand alone (non mobile phone) navigation or GPS devices can be used with ear buds by all riders, however we strongly recommend that inexperienced riders avoid using these technologies. Ear buds may impede sounds such as other traffic, changing of the bike’s gears or even emergency vehicles. While new riders are still learning, they should not be distracted by music or other sounds which may affect their ability to fully concentrate on riding.

All motor vehicle drivers

All drivers face tough penalties for illegal use of a mobile phone or interacting with other units that have visual displays while driving (e.g. DVD players or tablet computers) that are not driver's aids.

The penalties are 4 demerit points and a $545 fine.

It’s a proven fact that using a mobile phone while driving can be distracting. Taking your eyes off the road for just 2 seconds or more doubles your crash risk. Research shows that the behaviour  of a manual or visual distraction whilst driving causes crashes and near misses.

Rider of a bicycle or animal, or a person travelling in or on a wheeled recreational device, or the driver of a vehicle that is not a motor vehicle

Using a mobile phone is prohibited, except to make or receive a phone call or to use its audio/music functions provided the phone:

  • is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle, or
  • can be operated by the rider without touching any part of the phone, and the phone is not resting on any part of the riders’ body but can be in a pocket.

Using a phone as a navigational device/GPS while riding is prohibited unless it is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle. All other functions (including video calls, texting and emailing) are prohibited.

The penalty is a fine of $545 applies. Demerit points do not apply.


Smartwatches linked to phones or other devices perform a range of functions.  Some of these functions should not be used while driving because they are covered by the road rules that limit using mobile phones or visual display units. Drivers should therefore avoid using Smartwatches while driving.

When a Smartwatch is worn by a driver it should not be used while driving for making or receiving phone calls, navigation, music, text or video messaging, email or social media (e.g. Facebook and Twitter). 

Text or video messaging, email, social media use or similar communications should not be undertaken regardless of whether the Smartwatch is worn by the driver or not.

Fully licensed drivers may still use a Smartwatch provided it is not worn, and used as either a:

  • driver’s aid (for example, as a navigation device)
  • music player
  • mobile phone to make or receive phone calls

Smartwatches can also be used if the driver does not touch anything on the Smartwatch (for example, making and receiving calls needs to be hands-free via Bluetooth or similar means), and that it is secured in a commercially designed mounting affixed to the vehicle (this may be unavailable).

Safe driving tips for mobile phones and other devices

Observe these tips to stay safe on the road:
  • If your phone has an app or function that prevents distraction while driving, you can use that.
  • Consider putting your phone on silent and out of reach, or turn it off.
  • Divert all calls to voicemail.
  • 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.
  • If you are using your phone hands free, warn callers you are driving and may have to end the call.
  • Don’t make calls in heavy traffic, poor road conditions or bad weather.
  • Never look up phone numbers.
  • Never read or send text messages.
  • Don’t use Smartwatches or other similar devices.
  • Remember, taking your eyes off the road for 2 seconds or more doubles your crash risk.

A mobile phone can be important in an emergency. If you need to use your mobile phone to call for help, stop and park safely where you will not endanger yourself or other road users.


It is illegal in all Australian states and territories to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. This includes:

  • talking
  • texting
  • playing games
  • taking photos/video
  • using any other function on your phone.

Using a hand-held mobile phone is also illegal when your vehicle is stationary but not parked e.g. when you’re stopped at traffic lights.

Drivers who break this law in Victoria face an on-the-spot fine of $484 and will incur 4 demerit points.

Learner, P1 and P2 drivers are not permitted to use a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone while driving.

A navigation device (including a GPS unit) can be in operation but it must be an integrated part of the vehicle design, or secured in a commercially designed holder, which is fixed to the vehicle. A driver is required to have proper control of a vehicle, the entering of address information in a GPS while a vehicle is moving would be contrary to this rule. Address information should only be entered while a vehicle is pulled over and parked. Taking your eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds doubles the risk of crash. Alternatively, voice recognition is strongly recommended.

All learner and probationary car and rider licence holders and riders with an E condition can operate a navigation device if it meets the above requirements and it is not part of or a functionality of a mobile phone.

Fully licensed motorbike riders are exempt from the above rule however cannot hold the navigation device in their hand (can be in backpack/pocket etc). 


The rule relating to securing visual display units that are driver’s aids (e.g. navigational aids) does not apply to motorcyclists. This means that riders do not need a commercially designed mounting/cradle for their driver’s aid. However, riders must not hold the driver’s aid whilst riding.

Learner riders and fully licenced riders with an E condition are not allowed to use any mobile phone drivers aid functions. 

Rule references

Road Safety Road Rules 2017

300 Use of mobile phones

299 Television receivers and visual display units in motor vehicles

297 Driver to have proper control of a vehicle etc.

To look up these rules and check for other related rules, please refer to the Acts and Regulations section.

Driver’s aids such as GPS devices, dash cameras and vehicle reversing cameras must be securely mounted to the vehicle to ensure that the fitment does not pose a hazard to vehicle occupants or obstruct the driver’s vision. Additionally, these devices should be positioned in such a way to minimise their impact in a crash. 

When mounting driver’s aids note:

  • objects may become dangerous projectiles if they are placed in front of, or near, an airbag that deploys in a crash. Check the vehicle manufacturer’s advice on airbag deployment when mounting accessories
  • ensure cables attached to driver’s aids are properly secured and positioned and do not obstruct the driver’s view or could become a hazard
  • the drivers view of the speedometer and indicator warning lights must not be obstructed
  • avoid placing objects where your head might strike in a crash.

The below image provides a visual display of where we recommend these devices be mounted. Table 1 provides definitions of the upper and lower areas referred to in the image. 

Vehicle visual display unit

View a larger version of the image

Area Non-critical areas
Upper area  the upper 10% of the windscreen 
Lower area  the device must not obstruct the driver’s view of the road  

Refer to:

  • VSI 29 Fitment of equipment and accessories within the driver’s field of view
  • Installation and location of aftermarket in-vehicle visual display unit devices guidelines.

Both are available here.

Driving is complex and challenging. A simple way to make driving safer is to reduce the number of non-driving and distracting activities you undertake while driving.

Using a mobile phone while driving distracts you in many ways.

  • Physical distraction is caused by handling the phone while driving. For example, removing your hand from the steering wheel to dial a phone number, to answer or end a call.
  • Visual distraction is caused by the amount of time you have your eyes off the road. Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds when driving at 50 km/h, means you travel for 27 metres effectively blind.
  • Cognitive distraction refers to lapses in attention and judgement. This happens when you have to perform two mental tasks at the same time. Having a conversation competes with the demands of driving - your attention is often changing from driving to the conversation. This results in unsafe driving and can increase the risk of a crash.

Research shows that using a mobile phone while driving can lead to danger.

Riskier decision making

Deciding when it is safe to turn in traffic is a complex task. Using a mobile phone while driving affects judgement 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’s 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 do it 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.

If a dangerous situation develops, your passenger might stop talking and let you concentrate on driving. On a mobile phone, the person you’re talking to isn’t aware of the danger and will keep talking, further distracting you when your full concentration is needed.

There is some evidence that drivers aged under 30 years have an increased crash risk resulting from interacting with a passenger.

The best approach is to always concentrate on driving rather than talking to passengers, especially if you are an inexperienced driver.

Text messaging while driving results in physical, visual and cognitive distraction. Research shows that retrieving and sending text messages increases the amount of time a driver spends not looking at the road. Your eyes may be taken off the road for up to four times longer when text messaging compared to a driver who is not text messaging.

Text messaging while driving leads to:

  • incorrect lane changes
  • wandering from your lane
  • missing road signs and hazards like pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles.

Even the best drivers have difficulty in processing two or more pieces of information at the same time, especially if the tasks are similar or they demand more attention than the driver can give at one time.

For example, it is more difficult to drive safely and have a simple conversation in a complex driving situation such as in peak hour, on unfamiliar roads, at night and in wet weather. It is less difficult to drive safely in light traffic while having a simple conversation with a passenger.

It is also more difficult to drive safely and have a complex conversation in light traffic. This conversation needs more attention and takes your mind off the road. When your mind’s not on the road, someone can die.

Further reading on mobile phone use while driving

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