Disclaimer: This information is general in nature only. Budget Direct engaged Honcho to conduct this research on Budget Direct's behalf, and while Honcho have taken all due care in providing the statistics from their research, Budget Direct accepts no liability for this information.

So-called viral challenges on social media have been an online trend for years. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? This relatively simple challenge became a global phenomenon in 2014 when people rushed to join the craze that required them to dunk a bucket of ice-cold water over their heads – filming the moment of impact, of course – and post their reaction on the social media platform of their choice. Behind the amusing video takes was a very worthy cause; the Ice Bucket Challenge was designed to raise money for research into a neurological disorder and was a huge success.

However, not all viral challenges are as safe as the Ice Bucket Challenge, nor driven by any kind of motivation other than users just trying to grab attention and grow followers and awareness on their own platforms. Some are out-and-out risky and reckless, and as sites such as YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat have surged in popularity, viral challenges have become a way to indulge some idiotic urges. With a convenient ability to record and share video, we’re able to witness the stupidity of our fellow citizens and, sometimes, copy them.

Nowadays, a new viral challenge seemingly crops up every week. Some of them, like the ‘Old Town Road’ challenge or the ‘DNA test’ challenge, are relatively benign and harmless. But others are most definitely not. There’s a spate of driving challenges that can prove a genuine distraction for drivers and passengers – at the very least, these might result in traffic offences, leave your insurance void, or even worse, lead to a potential accident. In response, and presumably in an effort to persuade people not to try some of the challenges, TikTok has started putting warning messages on some videos, with the wording: ‘The action in this video could result in serious injury’.

Because of its immense popularity, with over three billion downloads globally and 1.1m daily users in Australia alone, it’s becoming more common for users to create content at the wheel of their car. With more users than ever taking to the platform to create video, Budget Direct has provided a guide to the social media app – and has some useful advice on best practice when it comes to mobile phone usage when behind the wheel.

Advice and guides

Budget Direct have put together a curated list of common questions involving driving laws around phone usage to highlight what the impact on your insurance could be if you are caught doing one of these challenges.

Should I drive and use my phone?

QLD: It is illegal to hold a mobile phone in your hand or have it resting on any part of your body, such as your lap, when driving. This applies even if you're stopped in traffic. The phone does not need to be turned on or in use for it to be an offence. The penalty for illegally using a mobile phone in QLD while driving is a fine of $1000 and 4 Demerit Points.

NSW: No. It is illegal to hold and use your phone while stationary at traffic lights or stuck in traffic. If your phone is secured in a cradle, you can only touch your phone to make or receive a phone call, for audio playing functions; or for using a driver’s aid (such as navigation).

VIC: All drivers face tough penalties for illegal use of a mobile phone or interacting with other units that have visual displays while driving (e.g. DVD players or tablet computers) that are not driver's aids. The penalties are 4 demerit points and a $545 fine.

TAS: Using a mobile phone while driving is banned except to make or receive a phone call provided the phone is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle; or can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone. Illegally using your phone while driving will incur a fine of $344, and three demerit points.

WA: In Western Australia, regulation 265(2) of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) (RTC) makes it an offence for a driver to use a mobile phone while the vehicle they are driving is moving, or is stationary but not parked. The penalty is a $1000 fine and 4 demerit points (or 8 demerit points during a holiday period)

SA: You must not use a hand-held mobile phone while your vehicle is moving or is stationary in traffic (for example, at traffic lights). You may, however, use a hand-held mobile phone while your vehicle is parked. All drivers who use a hand-held mobile phone while driving face an on-the-spot fine and will incur three demerit points.

If you want some tips on how to avoid using your mobile phone while driving see our guide on ‘do-not-disturb’ while driving.

Am I distracting a driver if I'm filming my friend who is driving?

Distracted drivers are a danger not only to themselves and their passengers but to other road users as well. A driver can be distracted from many things, including talking on your mobile phone, reading or sending a text on your mobile phone, changing your radio station or scrolling to a song in your playlist, attending to children in the backseat and to people in the passenger seat. Driver distraction is covered under a general road rule across all states that “a driver must not drive a vehicle unless the driver has proper control of the vehicle”.

These types of scenarios link to Budget Direct’s Motor Insurance Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and are found under the General Exclusions which states: “You are not covered under this policy for: loss, damage or liability caused by the driver of the car, or a passenger, acting in a wilful or reckless manner.”

If you are worried about getting distracted, please see our road safety guide on how to avoid getting distracted on the road.

Does posting a TikTok of me driving invalidate my insurance?

If you get caught illegally using your mobile phone while driving, you’ll not only be penalised by the authorities, your car insurance premium may go up as a result. That’s because your driving history is one of the factors we use when calculating your premium. Any information obtained regarding an accident or incident will be used to consider the acceptability of a claim.

From a policy impact perspective, if you get caught illegally using your mobile phone you may lose your license, and you would need to advise your insurance company. Your driving history is a factor considered when calculating your premium. If these types if factors are not disclosed it may also result in a claim being declined.

Is posting a TikTok of me using a car whilst driving illegal?

Using a mobile phone while driving to do anything is illegal, unless the phone is in a cradle or connected to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or bluetooth and operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone. This includes filming yourself driving for any kind of social media.

What are the state by state rules on filming whilst driving?

QLD: To keep yourself and other road users safe your full attention is needed when driving. It is illegal to hold a mobile phone in your hand or have it resting on any part of your body, such as your lap, when driving. This applies even if you're stopped in traffic. Filming while driving will have the same results as any other use of a phone while driving, a fine of $1000 and 4 Demerit Points.

NSW: If you would like to use your phone for social media or filming, your vehicle must be parked out of the line of traffic. The fine for illegal mobile phone use is $352, or $469 if detected in a school zone. There is a five demerit point penalty for illegal mobile phone use, which increases to 10 demerit points during double demerit periods. These fines and demerit point penalties apply to both camera-detected offences and infringements issued by NSW Police.

VIC: Using a mobile phone while driving in Victoria has significant consequences for the driver, aside from the risk of crashing. The penalty for using a mobile phone or device while driving or stationary but not parked is 4 demerit points and a fine of up to $1517.

TAS: Texting, browsing online, or anything that requires you to touch your phone is illegal in Tasmania whilst driving, including filming. If you want to do any of these things, then you will need to pull over. Illegally using your phone while driving will incur a fine of $344, and three demerit points.

WA: Touching, pressing or otherwise operating functions of the mobile phone breaks the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) (RTC) and is illegal in Western Australia. If you are convicted of using a mobile phone to go on social media and film, it is an aggravated offence and the penalty is a $1000 fine and 4 demerit points.

SA: In South Australia, Rule 300 (Use of Mobile Phones) under the Australian Road Rules details what is and isn’t legally acceptable use of a mobile phone while driving. It is an offence to create, send or look at a video message on a mobile phone. All drivers who use a hand-held mobile phone while driving face an on-the-spot fine and will incur three demerit points.

Can I drive with the door open if I am driving slowly?

If someone unknowingly moved their car with a door open which caused damage it would be considered an accident (and covered by insurance) for example, if someone reversed their car back and didn’t realise the back door was open and it hit the brick fence alongside the driveway. However, if this was done intentionally it would not be regarded as an accident.

If I damage someone else's car on purpose for a ‘challenge’, does it impact my insurance?

Insurance covers accidental damage. Any damage deliberately caused, or “on purpose” would not be covered, whether it was done by someone else or the owner of the car.

Does driving into oncoming traffic affect my insurance?

Someone may accidentally drive into oncoming traffic and for the claim to be paid, you should expect an Insurer to assess if there are any factors contributing to the loss that would not be covered.

Is it illegal to do dance challenges while driving?

If the car is parked and the engine is off then dance challenges in a car are not a problem. However if the engine is on then you would be breaking the law as drivers need to have both hands on the steering wheel and have complete control of the vehicle. Additionally, if a mobile phone was being used, you would be committing the illegal act of using a mobile phone while driving. Police can issue fines and demerit points for distracted driving so play it safe and avoid distractions.

If you have any other questions or concerns around road safety and mobile phones, please see our guide on Australian attitudes towards using mobile phones while driving.