Australia

Harsh new road rule you need to know

The crackdown, enforced from September 17, will see drivers and riders who are caught using phones cop five demerit points, increasing from the previous penalty of four demerit points.

Pairing this with a $337 fine makes NSW the strictest state in the country for the offence.

During double demerit periods, such as long weekends, motorists can be penalised ten points.

Drivers or motorcyclists with a Learner, P1 or P2 licence are not permitted to use their mobiles under any circumstances while operating a car.

The harsher penalty means if a learner or P1 motorist is caught using a phone while driving they will automatically face a three-month suspension of their licence.

Those drivers have a threshold of four demerit points, meaning the five point penalty would instantly exceed their demerit point limit.

P2 drivers and riders will have three demerit points remaining if they are penalised for illegally using a mobile phone.

When NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey announced the increased penalties in July, she said a survey by the Government had shown 74 per cent of the community supported further limiting in-car mobile phone use.

“We all see it and the community has had enough,” Ms Pavey said.


WHEN YOU CAN USE YOUR PHONE

There tends to be some confusion surrounding what is legal when it comes to mobile phone use for motorists.

For people who hold a full NSW licence, there are times when they are permitted to use their phones.

If a phone is secure in a cradle fixed to the car and doesn’t obscure a driver’s vision of the road, they can use it to make or answer calls, play music or other audio, and use the navigation system.

Having the phone securely mounted makes it legal for drivers to do things like dial a number that they would otherwise be unable to do while driving.

Drivers can also use the device for the first two purposes without a cradle, so long as the phone can be activated without being touched, like through Bluetooth or voice activation.

The only time a motorist is allowed to hold a phone is if they are passing it across to a passenger.

The Transport NSW website warns that even using your phone legally can be risky.

“Consider if it is important and the demands of the traffic before using your mobile,” the website reads.

“The safest option is often to wait until you are parked out of the line of traffic.”

WHEN YOU CAN’T USE YOUR PHONE

If you don’t have a cradle for your phone or you can’t activate it without touching it then there is no way to legally use your device while on the road.

Actions such as emailing, texting, taking photos, video messaging, using social media or even just touching a mobile are illegal while driving.

If a driver or rider is waiting at traffic lights or stuck in traffic, it is still not legal for them to hold their phones.

Even if a motorist has their phone in a cradle fitted to their vehicle, they are not able to send a text message.

If a motorist wishes to do any of these things then they are required to be parked out of the line of traffic.

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