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Tackling driver distraction in Australia

If you use your phone illegally while driving, you're just as dangerous as a drink driver1.

Evidence shows that the use of mobile devices while driving is a significant contributor to driver distraction and is increasingly implicated in road crashes, casualties and fatalities.

We sought to address the issue of driver distraction through a large program of work including the National Summit on Driver Distraction in 2019.

Engaging stakeholders

It is the driver's decision to engage with a mobile phone device while driving, however, there are a number of elements that influence a driver’s decision. The following stakeholders were critical to take part in finding a solution:

  • drivers and passengers
  • educators and researchers
  • telecommunications industry
  • infrastructure planners
  • mobile connectivity industry
  • employers
  • government regulators and enforcement bodies
  • automotive industry
  • insurance industry.


Develop a common purpose and shared responsibility for improving driver safety by actively involving stakeholders in developing more effective solutions for driver distraction.

Streams of work

Stakeholders were engaged across 4 separate yet inter-related streams of work:

  • stakeholder engagement
  • penalty regime
  • technology solutions
  • chain of responsibility.


Engaging stakeholders was critical for the development of innovative solutions to reduce distraction related crashes and casualties on Australian roads.

Key engagement activities included:

  • stakeholder interviews
  • workshops
  • national 2-day summit
  • request for information on emerging technology
  • technology discovery days.

National roadmap on driver distraction key programs

Designing for a safer interaction

Focuses on the Human Machine Interface and designing safer interactions with devices while driving.

  • evaluate Human Machine Interfaces
  • develop a safer device design.

Mapping out the adoption of in-vehicle distraction mitigation technology

Focuses on increasing the availability and implementation of distraction mitigation technology through Australian Design Rules and ANCAP safety ratings.

  • shape vehicle design rules
  • work with technology vendors to highlight availability of after market technology
  • ANCAP to refine incoming protocols
  • work with manufacturers on product roadmaps.

Recognising the vehicle as a workplace

Focuses on working with employers and workplace health and safety regulators to improve employer approaches to driver distraction.

  • application of Workplace Health and Safety Regulation
  • insurance as a lever for corporate fleets
  • develop and disseminate industry guidelines for workplaces.

Encouraging greater compliance through enforcement

Focuses on strengthening existing enforcement mechanisms through 3 levers - a redesign of current rules, enhancing detection initiatives and the ability to access and share crash and infringement data.

  • evolve Australian Road Rules and corresponding penalties
  • enhance detection, deterrence and offender management
  • expand data access and sharing.

Changing driver behaviour

Focuses on innovative campaign and educational strategies to influence driver behaviour.

  • Drive change through education and campaigns.
  • Explore the use of infrastructure as a nudge tool.
  • Lever open data as a nudge tool.

1. Strayer, D., Drews, F. and Crouch, D. (2006). ‘A comparison of the cell phone driver and the drunk driver.’ Human Factors 48(2): 381-91.

Last updated
18 February 2021