A drivers guide to mobile phone use

Everything used to be so simple; a driver would set out on his or her journey and promise to call the office or house for further instructions or updates when they had reached their destination. With the possible exception of worrying about where to find a pay phone, drivers had very little to think about when it came to phones within their vehicles. Oh how things have changed. From the retro car phone to the modern day smart phone, in car communication has come a long way. With all this behavioural change a new questions arises; can we communicate effectively in our vehicles without compromising our driving?

What are the rules here?

Handheld phone use;  Browsing, gaming, texting, holding the phone to your ear and any other interaction with a hand held phone is now illegal in every Australian state or territory. The key question the current legislation on the subject asks is “Are you still fully in control of the vehicle?" Whilst this is rather vague it does make a large amount of sense once you consider your in-car activities in terms of control, rather than what’s legal and what’s not.

Mounted units and earpieces;  It would seem that this is the most borderline area in the discussion. Mounted units and earpieces are not as dangerous as using the phone directly, however they still represent a risk. This is due to the fact that they can be cumbersome and at times can demand attention from drivers who wish to change settings or controls.

The integrated Bluetooth service;  These have been brought in by quick thinking vehicle manufacturers and are now becoming standard on almost all new vehicles. The services are mainly activated by steering wheel controls and seem to be the safest way to talk via your phone whilst driving.

The general advice

Below is some general advice from https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/ on the subject of mobile phones in vehicles.

•  Tell callers you are driving and may have to end the call
•  Use voicemail and remember to record an appropriate greeting
•  Pull over safely and park to make or receive a call
•  Don’t make calls in heavy traffic, poor road conditions or bad weather
•  Plan breaks in your trip for phone calls
•  Never look up phone numbers
•  Tell your family and friends not to call when you know you’ll be driving
•  Never read or send text messages

Wrap up

However much we like to multitask whilst driving, the unfortunate fact is that according to the most up to date research we are not very good at it. Driving can be boring at times and whilst getting things done over the phone can give us a satisfied feeling it still represents a real risk. The overwhelming evidence points to the fact that despite how much we hate the idea, any distraction no matter how small, can prove fatal. The final thought here really is to ask people to examine their driving with the ultimate question being “Do I really have control of my vehicle should someone run out in front of me?”

What do you think of the most up to date standards on phone use in vehicles?

Have you seen our article on driver distraction?

Please comment below.

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