What do the new changes to the mobile phone laws mean?
From 1 November 2012 you can only use a mobile phone to make or receive a phone call, while driving if the phone:
- is secured in a cradle fixed to the vehicle, or
- can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone for example through the use of hands free or Bluetooth technology
You can’t hold a phone in your hand, other than to pass it to a passenger, and cannot rest the phone on your leg or between your shoulder and ear.
What can I use the phone for when driving?
You are allowed to use the navigational or GPS function and audio functions of a phone while driving if you follow the rules.
All other functions including video calls, internet, texting, games and emailing are prohibited.
It’s important to remember that learner and P1 drivers are not allowed to use any function of a phone while driving.
How should a phone be mounted?
The phone must be in a commercially designed cradle and affixed to the vehicle in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. It is not necessary to have the cradle professionally installed.
It is not permissible to affix a mobile phone to a dashboard with velcro, or by other ad hoc measures.
Can I still have Bluetooth and press buttons on my steering wheel? Does the phone still have to be mounted?
You can still use Bluetooth because the steering wheel is not part of the phone, as long as the phone is not being held against your body. In these circumstances you do not need to have the phone mounted or secured in the vehicle however it is recommended you do. If you need to touch your phone to dial numbers to make a call, the phone must be mounted.
Can you use all of the functions of your mobile phone while stationary in a traffic queue, or stopped at traffic lights?
No. You will be subject to the same laws as if your car was moving. You can only use all of the functions of your mobile phone if your vehicle is parked -– off the road. However, it is recommended that you switch your engine off before using your phone.
How will making people mount mobile phones to make a call improve road safety?
The new rules around mobile phone use are designed to stop people looking down at a phone in their hand, which means they take their eyes off the road and stop concentrating on driving safely. Requiring mobile phones to be mounted on the dash means that drivers heads remain up and they keep facing the road while operating phones.
How prevalent are mobile phones as a cause of crashes and fatalities on our road?
The truth is we don’t know exactly. While we have some statistics, the fact is they rely on people to self-report that they were using a phone at the time of a crash, which is not in their best interests legally. This means the involvement of mobile phone use in causing crashes is severely underreported. You only need to drive on any road in Australia to regularly see people on their phones while driving, which is dangerous to themselves and other road users.