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Mobile Phone Camera Detection: When is it okay to use your phone?

Last Sunday, the NSW Road Minister announced the roll out of the mobile phone detection camera program, commencing later this year. Cameras will be both fixed and trailer mounted....

Justin Wong

Last Sunday, the NSW Road Minister announced the roll out of the mobile phone detection camera program, commencing later this year. Cameras will be both fixed and trailer mounted. Transport for NSW boasts an advanced system which utilises artificial intelligence to review images and detect drivers in all weather conditions, during the day and night.

For the first 3 months, offending drivers will be issued with a warning letter, however, after this period they will face a $344 fine ($457 in a school zone) and 5 demerit points.

There are lots of misconceptions out there about when you can and can’t use your phone while driving. Here are a few of the common ones:

  • I can play music or use my GPS navigation as long as my phone is in a cradle fixed to the windscreen.

You can only play music and use a driver’s aid such as GPS navigation if you are on a full-driver’s licence and the phone can be operated without touching it. You cannot use these functions if you are on a learners or provisional licence. Learner and P1 drivers and riders who are detected using their phone will exceed their demerit point allowance and may be given a three-month licence suspension. For more about licence suspensions, click here.

  • I can send a text using Siri or another voice-command system while driving.

While driving you cannot send any texts, audio texts, emails or video messages. You can only make or receive calls if you are on a full driver’s licence. You can, however, dial a number if your phone is in a cradle.

  • I can quickly scroll through Facebook if I am completely stopped at a traffic light.

You must be parked and out of the line of traffic in order to be on any social media, send texts or emails.

  • It’s okay for me to be on a call if I have my phone on loudspeaker in my lap, with both hands on the wheel.

A phone can only be operated without touching or holding it in any way. So, it must be either in a cradle attached to your vehicle or through the Bluetooth mechanisms of your car. It is also okay if your phone is in your pocket and doesn’t require you to touch it.

  • I have a digital driver’s licence as part of the trial. I can pull out my phone and open my Service NSW App if I’ve been pulled over by a Police Officer.

You must wait until the Police Officer instructs you to open your digital driver’s licence before touching your phone.

If you have been charged with an offence relating to mobile phones and require legal advice, contact us on (02) 9025 9888.