The NSW government is cracking down on driving with mobile phones! Warn your kids and younger siblings that Learners, P1 and P2 drivers are targeted. When introducing the new laws, Roads Minister Gay said

“If you think that’s tough, “I don’t give a damn…we’re deliberately making it tough”.

Catastrophically, 21 deaths of young people so far this year has brought on the new changes.

From 1 December 2016, Learner, P1 and P2 licence holders must not use any function of a mobile phone while driving or riding. If they are caught, they can lose four demerit points, exceeding their demerit point threshold and therefore face a three month suspension, to say nothing of double demerits weekends and fines.

As the NSW Government’s gotten tough, we think it’s important for you and your young drivers to know the new rules and penalties before they come into effect from 1 December 2016.

WHAT KIND OF BEHAVIOUR DO THE NEW RULES APPLY TO?

From 1 December 2016 Learner, P1 and P2 licence holders must not use a mobile phone at all while driving. This includes phones in the hands-free mode, Bluetooth, on ‘speaker phone,’ sending text messages or any other use.

Restricted license holders often think they are OK using their phones if they are stopped or using ‘Siri’ to find the route to their next destination, however, the new rules apply when the engine is on, the car is moving at any speed, stopped at traffic lights or whenever you are in the line of traffic. Touching your phone is not permitted except if the vehicle is parked out of the line of traffic and the engine is off.

WHAT IF I AM JUST HOLDING MY PHONE OR HAVE IT IN MY POCKET?

Unrestricted license holders can have their phone in a pocket to make calls on hands free modes such as Bluetooth, but restricted license holders cannot even touch their mobile phones. For all drivers, it is illegal to have your mobile phone touching any part of your body, other than to pass it to a passenger. However, to be safe with the new laws, it would be best to tell your kids not to hand their phone to a passenger whilst driving, just in case it can be misinterpreted as ‘using’ a mobile phone.

CAN A RESTRICTED LICENSE HOLDER USE GOOGLE MAPS IN HANDS FREE MODE?

Full unrestricted licence can use a mobile phone as a driver’s aid, such as GPS, but yep, you guessed it, learners, P1s and P2s are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving. So what can I use to navigate? You can use a GPS device that is not a mobile phone, as long as the device is secured in a mounting fixed to the vehicle and does not obscure the driver’s view of the road. The device must not be placed in a location that will increase the likelihood of injury in a crash.

SO I CAN USE A GPS. WHAT KIND OF MOUNT CAN I USE?

Mounts that fit on the dashboard, near the radio or on the driver’s right-hand side will be OK, but what about a windscreen mount? It is unclear whether a mobile phone or GPS mounts on the windscreen will not be deemed to ‘obscure your view of the road’ or be ‘in a location that will not increase the likelihood of injury in a crash’ as the Centre for Road Safety’s website dictates. For safety, a bracket not mounted in front of your face is best.

CAN I STILL LISTEN TO MUSIC?

Yes, if you have a full unrestricted licence, no for restricted licenses. You can use the audio playing function provided the phone can be operated without you touching any part of it, such as via Bluetooth, but for learners to P2 riders, they may have to re-learn how to use the CD player and radio.

Bizarrely, this could be just as distracting as mobile phone use, but no additional restrictions are coming into effect on 1 December 2016 for using these devices.

We hope that this has been informative on the new changes effective from 1 December 2016.

Bay Legal’s team of excellent solicitors are experienced in all traffic matters and getting a fair go in court. If you have an infringement notice or charge under the Roads Transport Act please contact us now on (02) 9344 0682 to make an appointment. Your referral is our greatest compliment!