Queenslanders caught using their mobile phones behind the wheel will face the toughest fines in the country from February 1.
Anyone caught using a phone will be fined $1000 and drivers caught twice within a year risk losing their licence.
The fine is more than double the current penalty of $400.
In a statement from the department of transport and main roads:
- From 1 February 2020, the penalties for illegally using a mobile phone while driving are increasing from a $400 fine and 3 demerit points to a $1,000 fine and 4 demerit points
- This is to help deter people from this dangerous behaviour. A driver’s response time while texting on a phone is comparable to that of a driver with a blood alcohol reading of between 0.07 and 0.10.
- The increased penalties mean that some licence holders, like learners and P-Platers, could lose their licence from just 1 offence.
- Double demerit points will still apply to all drivers for a second mobile phone offence within 12 months. This is another $1,000 fine and 8 points and could cost most people their licence.
- Bicycle riders will also be fined $1,000, but no demerit points will be issued.
Driving while using a mobile phone held in your hand is illegal—even if you’re stopped in traffic. This means you can’t:
- hold the phone next to or near your ear with your hand
- write, send or read a text message
- turn your phone on or off
- operate any other function on your phone.
- Learner and P1 provisional drivers under 25 must not use hands-free, wireless headsets or a mobile phone’s loudspeaker function.
- Learner and P1 provisional drivers’ passengers are also banned from using a mobile phone’s loudspeaker function.
The current fine of $400 (3 penalty units) is also being retained for passengers of learners and P1 provisional licence holders under age 25 who illegally use a mobile phone’s loudspeaker function.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey says Queensland will trial cameras already in use in NSW that are specifically designed to detect mobile phone use on the roads.
“They are the toughest laws in Australia … because this problem has been escalating,” he said
“I just can’t accept the road toll – we’ve got to deal with this.” Mr Bailey says drivers already know they are breaking the law and risking lives by picking up their devices, and there’s no need for a long lead-in time.
“The safest thing for people to do is to change their behaviour right now because that means safer roads.”