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Mobile phone and distracted driving statistics in Australia

Woman on phone while driving

Each year thousands of car accidents and injuries happen as a result of mobile phone use behind the wheel. This form of distracted driving is a serious issue in many parts of the world, and Australia is no outlier. 

According to the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q), hand-held phone use while driving increases the risk of crashing by 3.6 times, especially considering the distracting power of our modern day smartphones.

In this guide, we're highlighting key statistics on distracted driving, particularly focusing on smartphone use, to emphasize the importance of keeping phones aside while driving.

Quick stats

  • 19% of Aussie drivers feel confident using their mobile phone when driving. 
  • Using your mobile phone while driving increases your chance of crashing by at least 4x.
  • Texting while driving is at least as dangerous as drink driving.
  • Taking your eyes off the road for more than two seconds doubles your risk of crashing.
  • Distraction is a contributing factor in 16% of serious casualty road crashes.
  • Mobile phone detection cameras in NSW have helped reduce mobile phone use while driving from 1 in 82 drivers (2019) to 1 in 534 (2023).
  • In the 2022/23 fiscal year, mobile phone detection cameras led to over 200,000 fines in NSW for driving while using a phone, 14 times more than police-issued fines.

So, what can we do to encourage safe driving practices and reduce the number of car accidents caused by mobile phone use?

As seen in NSW and WA, mobile phone detection cameras are one option, coupled with stricter laws and steeper fines for texting or talking on the phone while driving. Additionally, public awareness campaigns may help increase awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. In other words, let’s take a page out of the anti-smoking playbook.

What percent of car crashes are caused by mobile phones in Australia?

According to research by Budget Direct more than 13% of Australians feel comfortable using their mobile phones while driving. This is especially concerning if you consider that using your phone while driving increases the chance of an accident by 16% concerning since it's estimated that mobile phone usage while driving increases the risk of a car crash by 15 times and a truck crash by a whopping 20 times.

What activities are distracted drivers doing on their mobile phones?

According to research from Budget Direct in 2023, the main ways people used their mobile phones while driving were:

  • Changing the song that was playing (14%)
  • Checking their phone when stopped at the traffic lights (11%)
  • Reading or replying to a text (2%)
  • Checking or updating their social media (1%)

When asked what the reason was for using their phones while driving, the respondents said:

  • They felt safe and capable of doing so (14%)
  • It was habitual for them (7%)
  • It was an emergency (5%)

However, it’s worth noting that 73% of the 1000 people surveyed said they didn’t use their phones at all while driving.

There are a number of things that drivers can do to avoid being involved in a car accident caused by mobile phone use.

  • Pull over to a safe location. First and foremost, it is important to be aware of the dangers involved when using your phone while driving. If you must make a call or send a text, pull over to a safe location first.
  • Keep your phone out of reach while driving. So that you are not tempted to use it while driving, put your phone in the glove compartment or your bag before starting your journey.
  • Use your phone’s voice control features. If you’ve got an iPhone, yell out for Siri’s help, or use Voice Access on your Android. Let your phone’s digital hands and eyes  do the work, so you can focus on the road.
  • Buy a GPS. Although they can sometimes be pricey, buying a GPS to use instead of your phone’s map applications might help you focus more on the drive, rather than whatever else is happening on your screen.
  • Turn your phone’s notifications off while driving. Those constant notifications are all too tempting to glance at while you’re driving, so remove them in the first place by switching your notifications off or putting your phone into ‘do not disturb’ mode.

Additionally, many newer cars now come equipped with hands-free technology, which allows drivers to make calls without taking their hands off the wheel. If you have this feature in your car, be sure to take advantage of it.

Finally, if you see someone else driving while using their phone, do not hesitate to report them to the authorities. By speaking up, you could help prevent a serious accident from happening. Just make sure you’re not using your phone to report them while you’re behind the wheel yourself!

Mobile phone car accident statistics by demographic in Australia


Data by Edgar Snyder shows that young people are more likely to be involved in accidents where mobile phone use is a contributing factor. This is likely due to a combination of factors, including inexperience behind the wheel and a greater likelihood of engaging in risky behaviour.

Young drivers are the biggest culprits of phone use behind the wheel. The greatest mobile phone use was reported in the 18-24 age group (94%), followed by the 25-29 age group (91%), according to Novus Auto Glass.


There is no significant difference between the genders when it comes to mobile phone-related car accidents. However, according to DingGo men are more likely to be involved in accidents overall, regardless of whether mobile phones are a factor. 


Urban areas tend to have higher rates of car accidents caused by mobile phones than rural areas. This is likely due to the increased traffic and congestion in cities and higher volume of cars, which makes it more difficult for drivers to pay attention to the road.

In order to better understand the causes and consequences of mobile phone-related accidents, state or national governments may consider conducting further research on this issue. This could involve collecting data on demographic factors such as age, gender, and location, in addition to analysing accident patterns and trends over time. 

Additionally, policymakers may explore other methods for promoting safe driving practices and reducing car crashes related to distracted driving.

What percent of fatal car crashes are caused by mobile phones?

While this can be hard to accurately determine, in NSW from 2012 to 2019, there were 191 casualty crashes involving a driver/rider using a handheld mobile phone. Mobile phone use is likely to be underreported in crash data due to the difficulty in obtaining evidence. The fatal four most common causes of car accidents in Australia have recently been changed to the fatal five, with distraction being the fifth highest cause.

The rapid growth of smartphones has been a contributing factor to this. Data from Australian Automobile Association has shown that in Australia, distraction is the main contributing factor in approximately 16% of serious casualty road crashes.

Penalties for using your mobile phone while driving in different Australian states

The following table summarises the penalties for mobile phone use while driving across Australian states:

Demerit Points
$387 / $514 in a school zone
$500 - $1,000
3 - 4
$592 + $99 levy
$514 - $632
3 - 4

Does using your mobile phone while driving affect your car insurance?

Due to the illegality of using your phone while driving, your car insurance provider may void any insurance claim you make resulting from distracted driving. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about car insurance, then check out our guides and news section.

Jack Dona
Jack Dona
Money writer

Jack is degree-qualified in communications and creative writing, with a talent for simplifying financial jargon. His approach helps consumers make better decisions. Jack is RG146 certified in generic knowledge and uses flair to make finance interesting.

Brad Buzzard
Brad Buzzard
Senior Money Writer

With RG146 in Generic Knowledge and Super, Brad excels in simplifying complex topics and analysing consumer insights. Featured in The Australian, Mumbrella and Asia Insurance Review, his work has influenced strategies for McDonald's, Unilever and more.