The recent introduction of phone cameras in NSW highlights the Government’s desire to get people off their mobile phones whilst behind the wheel. Whilst many people give into the temptation to answer that text on the go, thinking it to be “harmless”, it only takes a single accident to radically alter the driver’s life and the life of any potential victim. In the event you are using your phone whilst driving and you do cause a death, here is what you risk.
The definition of murder
Often regarded as the worst crime, murder is defined in Section 18(1) of the Crimes Act as follows:
“murder shall be taken to have been committed where the act of the accused…causing the death charged, was done… with reckless indifference to human life…”.
Those words “done or omitted with reckless indifference to human life” are extremely important here. It is completely arguable that you, driving a vehicle weighing a ton or so, knew full well that had you collided with a pedestrian, could have grievously injured or killed that person, yet you decided to look at your phone anyway. It is irrelevant that you did not intend to hurt or kill anyone. The fact that you looked off the road and at your phone whilst controlling a vehicle that was travelling (potentially at a high speed), means that you did not care or care enough about your capacity to harm a human life. Thus, it is arguable that you were recklessly indifferent.
Young drivers are at serious risk. In NSW, between 2008 and 2016, 41% of serious casualty crashes involving a hand-held mobile phone as a contributing factor involved people aged under 26 years. Transport NSW states that research shows people aged between 17-39 have the highest rate of claimed phone use whilst driving.
NRMA reports that the use of a mobile phone whilst driving results in a four-fold increase in risk of a crash. Furthermore, a driver’s likelihood of crashing is doubled if the driver glances away from the road for more than two seconds. Transport for NSW states that if you look at our phone whilst driving at 60km/hr for just 2 seconds, you have travelled 33 meters blind. At 100km/hr, looking at your phone for 2 seconds means you have travelled 55.56 meters blind.
If you are caught using a mobile phone
The fine for illegal mobile phone use is $344. If you are detected in a school zone, the fine is $457. In addition to the fine, there is a five-demerit point penalty. These fines and demerit points apply to both offences detected by a camera and infringements issued by NSW Police.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence, contact Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers for a free initial consultation.