The Victorian Government has announced tough new driver distraction road rules in a bid to keep drivers safe and reduce road trauma.
Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Melissa Horne today announced the new road rules will come into effect across the state from 31 March.
“Distraction is deadly – which is why we’re introducing these new road rules to protect the lives of Victorians,” said Minister Horne.
“Everyone has a role to play in keeping our roads safe, so when you’re driving, please make the right choices – pay attention and don’t be distracted.”
The Minister said distraction was a key contributor to road trauma, with research showing the risk of drivers crashing increases when texting, browsing or emailing. Distraction is also involved in at least 11% of fatalities – equal to 20 people each year whose death is avoidable, she said.
The new rules will extend existing mobile phone rules to cover modern technology – as one third of drivers admit to using their phone illegally while driving.
It will bring Victoria in line with the Australian Road Rules, and cover in-built vehicle systems, mounted devices, wearable and portable devices such as smartwatches and tablets.
Motorists caught driving distracted will receive penalties of four demerit points and a $555 fine. Community awareness campaigns will run over the coming months to educate drivers on the devastating risks of distraction.
“Too many drivers continue to put lives at risk using mobile phones behind the wheel. We’re deterring this type of risky behaviour on our roads with these new road rules, as well as phone and seatbelt detection technology,” said Minister for Police, Anthony Carbines.
“We need every motorist to make the right decisions when they’re behind the wheel. When they don’t, road safety cameras and Victoria Police are there to hold them accountable.”
The State Government is also investing $33.7 million as part of the Victorian Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 to introduce new mobile phone and seatbelt detection camera technology that will help catch people using their mobile phones and not wearing their seatbelts while driving.
Mobile phone and seatbelt detection technologies involve AI-enabled camera systems that can capture high-resolution images of passing vehicles in all conditions, including poor weather and low light levels when distracted driving is even more dangerous.
The new camera technology will be operational on Victorian roads in coming months. A three-month warning period will apply from the technology’s activation before drivers face infringement and demerit penalties.