Over recent years, the use of mobile phones whilst driving has become an increasing issue. In particular, the last five years has seen the rise of social media phone apps and has consistently been impeding on people’s daily lives. The Millennial Generation are probably the last to go through childhood without smartphone technology. Young generations from Z onwards are placed in a unique and strange position compared to previous generations. They are likely to be particularly susceptible to the addictive qualities of social media, it is all they know, one might say. The urge to speak on the phone or quickly send a text has been replaced with the need to check feeds, or post status updates and record whilst driving. Whether it be through Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. There are many dangers to this new trend and sadly a lot of young people have been involved in accidents, even resulting in their deaths. It is evident in the recent reporting of a video which was filmed of a young Sydney driver who was killed in a head-on crash. Whilst the driver lost her life, her friends were in hospital posting bed selfies. New South Wales Police are investigating a Snapchat video of this young driver, allegedly filmed before she was killed when her car crashed into oncoming traffic. The government continues to make campaigns about the seriousness of this offence and continues to place strict laws, however, the question about whether the message is getting through is an interesting one. This is not to say that smartphone technology only affects young people; Millennials who have been introduced to this type of communication in recent years are not shy to use social media, either and could be prone to addiction too. Signs of this could include a noticeable shortening of attention span, urge to check your phone as soon as you wake up and just before going to sleep, and even inability to sleep due to phone light exposure.


In NSW, it is an offence to use a mobile phone whilst driving. There are rules and penalties that apply for this offence.

Regulation 300 of the Road Rules 2014 states that:

The driver of a vehicle must not use a mobile phone while the vehicle is moving or is stationary but not parked.”

As indicated in the same regulation, “Use”, in relation to a mobile phone, includes any of the following actions by a driver:

  • Holding the body of the phone in her or his hand (whether or not engaged in a phone call), except while in the process of giving the body of the phone to a passenger in the vehicle;
  • Entering or placing, other than by the use of voice, anything into the phone, or sending or looking at anything that is in the phone;
  • Turning the phone on or off; and
  • Operating any other function of the phone.

In NSW, the following penalties apply for driving whilst using a mobile phone:

Demerit Points: 5

Fine $337


It is reported that, Shania McNeill, 21, was behind the wheel of a Suzuki Beleno that was travelling on Richmond Road at Berkshire Park – in Sydney’s west – about 1.15am on Sunday when she lost control of the vehicle and hit a Nissan Micra.

Two of Ms McNeill’s female passengers in the car, aged 20 and 23, were taken to Westmead Hospital in a stable condition after the horror crash, however the 21-year-old died at the scene.

In the video, posted to a social media account and shared up to 50 times, Ms McNeill can be seen driving with a bright light shining in her face while her friends scream her name.

The crash was so serious, Ms McNeill’s 20-year-old passenger was trapped in the vehicle for some time and had to be cut free, and the two people travelling in the Micra – aged 61 and 39 – were also both taken to hospital.

After that incident, another photo that was shared to social media showed the two surviving passengers who were in Ms McNeill’s car posing for a selfie from their hospital beds while wearing neck braces.

The images come after seven people died on roads around NSW over the Anzac weekend, sparking renewed warnings from police for motorists to take more care while driving.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy told Today that the trend of using video chats or video-based social media platforms while driving is a growing in places like the United States and police in Australia are trying to stop it before it becomes popular locally. “Any trend of going to video or Instagram or any of those social media platforms and sending out video or taping while you’re driving is a trend we’re really trying to stop. “The message needs to get through that if you continue to do this, you or your friends could continue to die.” He also said that the video taken while Ms McNeill was driving, as well as the hospital images, will form part of the police investigation into the fatal crash. He concludes stating that “We will continue to enforce this, we will continue to send the message that we won’t be putting up with it, however the message needs to get through to the community.”


Mr Corboy reported that, this year there have been over 9000 traffic infringement notices in relation to mobile phone use in motor vehicles. One thousand of those have been for P-plate drivers who are not allowed to use mobile phones at all in the car when they’re driving. Unlike L or P platers, a fully licensed driver or motorcyclist can only use their mobile phone to make or answer calls, use the audio playing function, or use it as an aid e.g. for navigation. The phone must be fixed to the vehicle and does not obscure the driver’s view of the road or can be operated without touching any part of the phone, such as via Bluetooth or voice activation. To use a phone as an aid, it must only be in a cradle fixed to the vehicle, not obscuring the view of the road. Nearly 50,000 people were given infringement notices for mobile phone use last year. Across the state, 145 major crashes and more than 7300 traffic infringements were recorded by police between April 24 and April 28.

Ensure you know the rules to avoid facing hefty fines or demerit points which can eventually lead to a loss of license. Read up about other traffic offences here, that could lead to penalties such as a fine, suspension or disqualification, or even imprisonment.

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