Driving is a complex task and requires the use and coordination of various skills.

Four main types of driver distraction
Visualthe things you see
Auditorythe things you hear
Physicalthe things you do with your hands
Cognitivethe things you think about

Any lapse in concentration increases the risk of the vehicle being involved in a crash. To anticipate and avoid hazards on the road, drivers must give driving their full attention at all times.

Even so, drivers still engage in activities that distract their attention from the driving task. These include using mobile phones, eating, drinking, smoking, conversing with passengers, using audio equipment, and responding to distractions caused by children or other passengers. There are also distractions outside the vehicle such as roadside advertising that take the drivers’ attention away from the task of driving.

Inattention is an issue in both rural and metropolitan areas, for all age ranges and for both males and females. Research shows that distractions can cause:

  • drivers to straddle lanes on a multi lane road or veer across the road
  • drivers to drive inconsistently, speeding up or slowing down without apparent reason
  • difficulty in maintaining appropriate following distances from vehicles in front (e.g. tailgating)
  • less awareness of safe gaps in traffic
  • slower reaction times and hence heightened crash risk
  • impairment of the driver’s judgement.

Research has also found that for younger drivers, having passengers in the vehicle is a distraction and coupled with peer pressure can increase the risk of a crash.

Today there is an increasing number of in-vehicle information, communication and entertainment systems including portable or in car DVD players. Driver distraction is likely to escalate as a road safety issue in the future.

Avoid the temptation of doing other tasks and getting distracted while you are driving. Remember who’s driving the vehicle. Taking your eyes off of the road or diverting your attention even for just a few seconds can be fatal.


What’s the difference between inattention and fatigue?

Fatigue is when you are tired and caused by a lack of sleep. Inattention is when you are distracted from the task of driving by other factors such as talking, eating and listening to the radio.

What the Law says

A person must not drive a vehicle without due care or attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons on the road.

The driver of a vehicle (except an emergency vehicle or police vehicle) must not use a mobile phone while the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked, unless the driver is exempt from this rule under another law of this jurisdiction. This does not apply to a driver using a mobile phone that is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle or is remotely operated by means of a device affixed to the vehicle or worn by the driver in the manner intended by the manufacturer and the phone is not being held by the driver.


A person must not drive a vehicle without due care or attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road. The maximum court imposed penalty for driving without due care is $2,500.

In case of an aggravated offence, that is if:

  • the offence causes death or serious harm to a person or is committed while the driver is attempting to escape pursuit
  • driving while disqualified
  • a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more
  • is driving under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or drugs or
  • is driving 45km/h or more over the posted speed limit

the driver will be disqualified for a minimum period of 6 months. A period of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months may also apply.

If detected driving while using a hand held mobile phone you will be liable for fine and three demerit points against your licence.

Latest news


All cars with “critical” defective Takata airbags to be refused registration in South Australia

07 Aug 2020

All remaining cars fitted with a critical defective Takata type airbag inflator will now be refused registration in South Australia from Monday, 10 August until they are rectified, to ensure the safety of all road users.


Safety label reminder for electric and hybrid vehicle owners

27 Jul 2020

As the popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles grows, DPTI reminds potential traders and buyers of the requirement to fix a safety label onto their numberplates.

News archive

Road safety works


McIntyre Road night works

17 Feb 2020

Works to improve ride quality will be undertaken on McIntyre Road between The Golden Way and Wright Road, commencing each night from 7pm, Tuesday, 18 February to 6am, Friday, 6 March, weather permitting.


11.6km of South Eastern Freeway to be resurfaced

04 Feb 2020

The South Australian Government is delivering $7.39 million worth of essential resurfacing works to five sections of the South Eastern Freeway between Mount Barker and Callington, with night works beginning this week.

Road safety works archive


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