The NSW Roads and Maritime Services have recently changed the rules surrounding mobile phone use on public roads in NSW. Not only are the regulations pretty tight, but the demerit points penalty has been raised from four to five points. With double demerits over the upcoming long weekend, if you are caught using your mobile phone in NSW you can be rewarded with a generous 10 points, which is a fair proportion of the standard 13 points available on a full private licence.
There’s a host of rules and regulations out there regarding use of mobile phones in cars. Can’t do this, can’t do that, but what can you do legally? All the states have slightly different iterations but it all boils down much the same, with the fines and points being the biggest difference.
How can I use my phone?
So what is the deal? You can use your phone as you see fit, only if you are parked. This means pulled over out of the traffic, with the parking brake engaged and engine off.
You can receive or make a call if your phone is in a commercially designed and manufactured cradle fitted as per the manufacturer’s instructions and not blocking the view through the windscreen, AND the phone is using a handsfree system that doesn’t require the phone to be manipulated by the driver. Some states allow the driver to swipe the screen to accept or reject a call. At no time can you have the phone on your body to use it.
What if I don’t have a cradle?
As the driver, the phone can’t be in your hand, resting on your leg or wedged between shoulder and neck. The driver can’t use the phone if the passenger is holding it. Some states allow the driver to pass the phone to their passenger without otherwise manipulating the phone.
Here is NSW’s take on the rules:
If using an iPhone that is resting on the passenger seat or dash, Siri can’t legally help you.
You can’t read a text message or email, even a preview, while the vehicle is not parked. You can’t have Siri or another app read the text message or email aloud to you. You cannot reply using a voice to text app or Siri either. Video messages are absolutely not allowed either.
Many of us use our phones for navigation. This can be done legally, but again the phone must be in a cradle as described above, with emphasis on not blocking the view from the driver’s seat or causing distraction.
Now don’t get your knickers in a knot: The police and other emergency services are exempt from these rules. If you want to have a cry about that, remember, police are also allowed to drastically exceed the speed limit, have blue lights on their cars, wield hand guns and take your licence away.
For more information or clarification, the Keep Your Eyes On The Road is an excellent resource, however each state and territory’s own roads and transport authority’s website are the most up to date and accurate.