Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Criminal Justice by Research


School of Arts and Humanities

First Supervisor

Cath Ferguson


Mobile phone use while driving has been an emerging issue for road safety in recent years. The development of new technology has meant that users are more connected to their devices than ever before. This has led to use while driving despite the illegality of this behaviour. In this research, three mobile phone use behaviours were investigated: making/receiving calls; creating/sending text messages, and accessing social media. Through application of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), an online survey was developed. Five hundred and fifty-nine university students including 193 young respondents (aged 17 – 25) responded to investigate attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioural control, and intentions towards using a mobile phone while driving. Knowledge of legislation, attitudes towards the law, penalties, and police enforcement was also explored. Chi-square tests, independent t-tests, and hierarchical multiple regression analysed the influence of the TPB components relative to demographic variables, crash, and enforcement history. Results confirm the relevance of TPB to investigate mobile phone use while driving in Western Australia. High occurrences of mobile phone use while driving were found despite respondents expressing negative attitudes, social norms (subjective norms) and low perceived control towards the behaviours as 76.16% of young respondents had used a mobile phone while driving at least once. Through hierarchical multiple regression, the TPB components predicted low intention to engage in mobile phone use while driving to make/receive calls, create/send text messages and access social media in the next week. In addition, most respondents had not suffered social (road crashes or hospitalisation from road crashes) and legal (receiving a caution or infringement) consequences as a result of using a mobile phone while driving. Road safety stakeholders and the research field will benefit from this research as it fills the gap of knowledge in a Western Australian context, particularly on the use of social media while driving.