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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.

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
06 December 2021