Mobile Phones and Driving
The use of mobile phones by drivers has seen a dramatic increase in recent years. Particularly since the introduction of smart phones and the increase in the use of social media. Unfortunately this has also lead to an increase in the number of drivers being distracted and failing to concentrate on the driving.
Distracted drivers account for 16% of all fatal accidents in NSW compared to 7% ten years ago. Because the number of people dying on our roads due to distracted drivers has more than doubled, the laws have changed. The new laws vary depending on the type of licence you hold. Make sure you know the rules that apply for your class of licence. Heavy fines and demerit point apply for illegal use of the mobile phone.
Legislation came into effect in July 2018 allowing NSW to test the worlds first mobile phone detection technology. Fixed and transportable cameras were found to work reliably in real world conditions. The new technology uses artificial Intelligence to review images to identifies if a person is illegally using their phone.
New mobile phone laws commenced on 1st December 2019.Unlike speed cameras there are no warning signs informing you of the mobile phone cameras. In the first week of operations 773,532 vehicles were checked by mobile phone cameras, and 3,303 were caught illegally using their phone.
Mobile phones learner drivers
Restricted licence holders including learner drivers and holders of provisional licences at not permitted to use their mobile phone at all whilst driving or riding in NSW.
Unrestricted licence holders
You are permitted to touch your phone when it is secured in a cradle to:
- Make or receive a phone call.
- Use audio playing functions
- Use a drivers aid such as navigation
You can not hold or use your mobile phone whilst driving or riding, it is illegal in NSW. It is also illegal to hold and use your mobile phone whilst stationery at traffic lights, or stuck in traffic. Your vehicle must be parked and out of the line of traffic to hold and use your phone.
Using your phone for other functions such as texting, emails or social media can only be done if the car is parked out of the line of traffic. Your ignition does not need to be turned off.
You can only use and handle your mobile phone to access your digital drivers licence after you have been requested to do so by a police officer. It is illegal to touch your phone before a police office instructs you to do so. For more information on a digital licence please visit the Service NSW Website.
You can access your phone wallet function to make a transaction providing your vehicle is stationery and off the road such as in a car park, driveway or drive through.
You can use your mobile phone if it is in your pocket to make or receive calls if it does not require you to touch the phone in any way.
Penalty for illegal phone use
Illegal use of a mobile phone incurs a fine of $344 and 5 demerit points. And a $457 fine applies in school zones. Double demerits apply to mobile phone offences. You will lose 10 demerit point during double demerit points periods. Penalties apply to to both camera-detected offences and infringements issued by NSW Police.
All learner and provisional drivers will exceed their demerit point threshold if caught using a mobile phone illegally.
For more information on the new rules for using mobile phones and driving please visit Transport for NSW.