Under rule 300 of the Australian Road Rules it is an offence to use a hand-held telephone when driving, other than when parked. This means that a driver is not permitted to use a mobile telephone even when stationary at traffic lights.
'Use' is defined very broadly by the Road Rules. It includes:
- holding a phone, whether or not engaged in a phone call [an exception is allowed for where a driver is in the process of handing the phone to a passenger in the vehicle]; or
- entering or placing, other than by voice, anything into the phone (e.g. text messaging); or
- sending or looking at anything on the phone; or
- turning the phone on or off and operating any other function of the phone.
Only those drivers with phones which can be used remotely (e.g. via Bluetooth) or which are mounted in a proper device that enables calls to be made or received without holding the phone can make or receive an audio phone call whilst driving.
An audio phone call does not include an email, text message, video call or video message. This means that creating, viewing or sending of text or video messages is prohibited, even by remotely accessed phones. However, automatic receipt of communications by the phone itself are excluded.
A mobile phone may be used as a driver’s aid but only if the body of the phone is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle while in use and the use of the phone must not require the driver to press or manipulate any part of the phone.
Learner permit and provisional (P1) drivers are prohibited from using any type of mobile phone technology whilst driving. The ban includes:
- hands free mode (for example, Bluetooth)
- loud speaker operation
- text messaging
It is still legal for a learner or P1 driver to make or receive calls if the car is safely parked. This does not include being stationary in a traffic queue or at traffic lights.
Penalty - see penalty summary
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