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The results of texting while driving can be devastating. Each year, over 1000 Australians die in motor collisions, which is why it’s important to know your obligations while on the road.

What constitutes ‘texting’?

Texting is where a communication is automatically received and the message itself is visually shown on the mobile screen.

What is the law on texting while driving?

The law is very strict about refraining from texting while driving. In order to text safely while driving, your vehicle must be parked. A vehicle is considered to be parked even if the key is in the ignition and the engine is running.

However, texting is illegal where your vehicle is stationary but not parked, such as:

  • At a set of traffic lights
  • In slow-moving traffic

If you are a learner or provisional driver, the laws are even stricter. Learner, P1 and P2 drivers are not permitted to use either a handheld or hands-free mobile phone while driving.

The general rules around texting while driving also apply to motorcyclists.

What is the penalty on texting while driving?

Drivers can face an on-the-spot fine (currently $443) and may incur four demerit points for texting while driving.

Why is texting while driving an offence?

Using your mobile phone while driving can be a life-threatening distraction. Studies show that using a mobile phone while driving can impair your ability to:

  • Stay in your lane
  • Keep an appropriate speed
  • Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles
  • React promptly
  • Judge gaps in traffic
  • Be aware of others

In fact, an early study even suggested that using a mobile phone while driving means you’re four times more likely to have a accident. And young drivers are particularly at risk, being four times more distracted when sending and receiving text messages.

How can I drive and text safely?

Don't do it. Protect yourself and others by:

  • Parking your car before texting
  • Downloading Road Mode, an Android app that silences incoming calls and messages, while alerting the other person that you are driving
  • Minimising distractions from your phone, smartwatch and other devices while driving
  • Putting your phone out of reach and eyesight to avoid being tempted to text