Tough new mobile phone penalties in WA pushed back to September 1

Tough new penalties for West Australian drivers caught using their phone in the car have been delayed.

From September 1, anyone caught texting, emailing, using social media, watching videos or accessing the internet or a mobile phone app while in control of a vehicle can face a $1000 fine and four demerit points.

It is a huge increase from the current $400 fine.

Drivers or riders holding a phone during a voice call also face fines of $500 and three demerit points.

The on-the-spot fines, which were announced in February, were originally scheduled to take effect from July 1.

The new laws will now come into force throughout the state on September 1 and will also apply to cyclists and motorbike riders.

Drivers can legally touch their mobile phone while driving or riding to answer or end a voice call, but the phone must be in a mounting secured to the vehicle.

The new penalties aim to make the distinction between drivers illegally making an audio call and using their phone in other ways.

Photo: Road Safety Commission WA.

Photo: Road Safety Commission WA.

Road Safety Commissioner Adrian Warner said distracted driving could be "deadly".

"In 2019, 31 people were killed on WA roads as a result of inattention, which includes mobile phone use, so the message is crystal clear," he said.

"The inconvenience of having to pay a fine if you are caught doing the wrong thing is nothing compared to the potential devastation and personal tragedy of killing or seriously injuring someone because you weren't concentrating on driving.

"The higher infringement reflects that it is very dangerous to be texting or reading emails or making video calls or surfing the net while you are driving.

"So please, unless your phone is on hands-free and sitting in its cradle, don't be tempted to pick it up.

"Keep your eyes on the road, drive with courtesy to the conditions and we will all have safer journeys in Western Australia."