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Ban on the Use of Hand-Held Mobile Phones While Driving

Published 01 Nov 2009

The Extent of the Proposed Ban

The Land Transport (Road User) Rules have been amended to:
  • ban the use of hand-held mobile phones and other telecommunications devices, such as Blackberry devices and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), while driving (including using these devices to text, email or send instant messages);
  • allow the use of hands-free mobile phones and two-way radios for verbal communication; and
  • allow genuine emergency calls (including *555) to be made where it is impracticable to pull over to make a call.
The safest option to minimise the potential for distraction while driving is to switch your phone off, or pull over safely and legally to make or take a call on a mobile phone. Note: Pulling over on the motorway shoulder, unless in a genuine emergency, is illegal and dangerous.

While driving, a driver may use a mobile phone to make, receive or end a phone call:
  • Only if they do not have to hold or manipulate the phone in doing so
  • Or, provided the mobile phone is secured in a mounting fixed to the vehicle, if the driver manipulates the phone infrequently and briefly.
This allows drivers without full voice-activation on their phones to make or receive calls. If a driver calls a number, ends or receives a call they should only need to touch the phone infrequently and briefly.

Secured in a mounting means that the mobile phone is held in a cradle or similar device that is securely attached to the dashboard or similar place on the vehicle.

If a phone is mounted and the driver manipulates it only infrequently and briefly then they may enter a full number. However, we would advise drivers to pull over to answer, make or end calls where possible.

If the phone has a loud speaker drivers are allowed to touch the phone to dial a number or answer it if they don’t hold the phone while they speak only if the phone is in a mounted device. You cannot hold or manipulate a phone to answer, or make a call even if you use it on loud speaker when talking.

Drivers can touch a device attached to the phone like a headset to activate a call or make one. Earpieces or mouthpieces attached to a phone can be used to allow a driver to use a phone without holding or manipulating it. So a driver may still touch an earpiece or mouthpiece to activate or make a call. As noted above, drivers will also be allowed to call a number, receive or end a call if the phone is in a mounted device.

If drivers don't have a hand-free kit and someone calls when they’re driving the drivers must not answer the call

CB radio and other forms of radio that do not have phone functionality are not subject to the provisions in the amendment Rule. The ban on hand-held mobile phone use while driving in the amendment Rule will contain an exemption for calls to *555 provided it is not practical or safe for the driver to pull over to make the call. This recognises the importance of *555 for reporting driving that is dangerous to other road users.

If a driver If a driver is stuck in traffic due to the road ahead being blocked, for example because of an accident, they may use their mobile phone to make, send and receive calls. But this does not apply when drivers are stationary in the normal flow of traffic, such as approaching intersections, traffic lights or road works.

Enforcement for the ban

An infringement fee of $80, and 20 demerit points, will be the penalty for those breaching a ban on using mobile phones while driving. Enforcement action will be taken where a driver is observed holding a mobile phone in his/her hand while manipulating the keys and/or holding the mobile phone up to the ear while conversing.

For a free mobile phone policy click here.