Distracted driving

Distracted driving is a huge risk to people riding bikes and other vulnerable road users.


The problem

People take their eyes off the road while driving a car too often

Driving a motor vehicle is a big responsibility and requires full attention.

Each time a driver eats, drinks, or checks their phone, their driving abilities are compromised. 

As technology has advanced more devices have made their way into vehicles, either built into the control system or brought in by the driver, and they demand attention.

When drivers are distracted they are effectively ‘travelling blind’, which causes significantly large areas of the road space to become hazardous for others.

And the longer a driver is distracted, the larger the area of road space that is compromised.

Distracted driver

The solution

Take the responsibility out of the driver’s hands and stronger laws to deter distracted driving behaviours.

Developing technology-neutral road rules for driver distraction

Bike riders are in a unique position on the road – we continually pass cars as we ride and we can see into them. Sadly, what we see is more than just driving.

In February 2019 Bicycle Network outlined recommendations to address distracted driving in a submission to the National Transport Commission who are investigating ways to regulate the safe use of technology devices as part of the road rules.

The recommendations were based on responses to a survey about distracted driving from more than 2,000 bike riders who shared their experiences and thoughts.

After assessing responses from the survey it became clear that Australian road rules, regulation and enforcement have not kept pace with the convergence of technology, lifestyles and vehicles.

Bicycle Network’s submission included eight recommendations to address and prevent any activity that diverts the driver’s attention away from the road and puts vulnerable road users at risk.

Bicycle Network's recommendations to address distracted driving
  1. The rapid roll out of hi-tech traffic camera technologies and legal reforms that make it easier for police to enforce distracted driving laws.
  2. A national advertising campaign to highlight the kinds of distracted driving and their consequences.
  3. Higher penalties for distracted driving with consistency across states and territories.
  4. Fast-track in-vehicle mobile phone blocking technologies and its mandated implementation across all new vehicles sold in Australia.
  5. In-built opt-out ‘Do not disturb while driving’ apps automatically activated in all smartphones sold in Australia.
  6. Implement autonomous vehicle technology in all new cars sold in Australia.
  7. Establish a national crash database to track the causes of crashes and the impact of distracted driving.
  8. Research into the motivations of distracted driving with a focus on smartphone use.
Download Bicycle Network's submission

Culpable driving laws need to change

Enough is enough. Culpable driving causing death to be the charge for anyone who kills a person while using a mobile phone and driving.

We need stronger laws to change public perception and make people realise that using a phone while driving a car is unacceptable. It should be treated the same as drink-driving.

It means that using a mobile phone while driving will carry the same 20-year maximum penalty as manslaughter. 

We’ve been calling for mobile phone use to be recognised as culpable driving since 2001 when Anthony Marsh was killed while riding when Silvia Ciach sending a text crashed into him. This has not happened and driver behaviour has got worse.

The law also needs to recognise that distraction continues after you’ve sent the message or finished the conversation and work needs to be done to determine the rules. Clearly the courts aren’t going to make this happen. We need parliament to show leadership and say enough is enough.


Mobile phone detection cameras hit the states

New South Wales

Since March 2020, mobile phone detection cameras have been operating across New South Wales, following a successful trial.

The system uses high-definition cameras to capture images of the front-row cabin space of all vehicles and employs machine learning technology to detect illegal mobile phone use.

NSW Police continue to enforce seatbelt offences, illegal mobile phone use and other high-risk behaviours as part of regular on-road policing operations.


A trial of mobile phone detection cameras was launched in July 2020, which found that one in 42 people were using a mobile phone while behind the wheel.

The Andrews Government has since announced that it will be investing AU$33.7 million to develop and implement a mobile phone detection camera network. The cameras will be rolled on to roads by 2023, with stakeholder consultation, demos and awareness campaigns to happen first.

Authorities in Victoria will begin issuing fines of up to $496 and four demerit points from mobile phone detection cameras


Like Victoria, the Queensland Government are committing to a permanent mobile phone detection camera network. This follows an evaluation of mobile phone detection cameras across metropolitan and regional locations.

The cameras used to monitor mobile phone and seatbelt use in Queensland, activated in July 2021, will now be used permanently.

Distracted drivers face a fine of up to $1,033 and 4 demerit points for illegal mobile phone use. Fines are being issued as of November 2021.

Distracted driving updates

In the news...

Queensland switches on mobile detection cameras

A fleet of mobile phone detection cameras are being used to monitor mobile phone and seatbelt use in Queensland, and fines will start being issued...

Road safety that helps people riding

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Eyes reveal drowsy drivers’ secrets

Research continues in Victoria into technology that can identify driver fatigue with a roadside test, with new trials are underway utilising pupil scanning.

Distracted driving cameras confirmed for Victoria

Victoria will go ahead with a $33.7 million investment in roadside cameras that can detect distracted driving after a trial found one in 42 people...

The COVID impact: fewer cars, more bad driving

New reports are confirming what bike riders experienced each day: although there may be fewer cars on the road, the drivers are more dangerous than...

Major crackdown on reckless driving in NSW

NSW Police and Crime Stoppers have launched a major crackdown on life threatening behaviour, calling on road users to help report drink, drug, dangerous and...

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