The New Anti-Phone Driving Law

Posted on February 25th, 2013

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by David Gawthorne

David Gawthorne is a Senior Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay in Newcastle and an Accredited Specialist in Family, Relationship and Matrimonial Law

As of 1 November 2012, the NSW Road Rule as to how mobile phones can be used whilst driving has become tougher. Previously, unrestricted licence-holders could only use a phone whilst the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked, if it was not held in their hand. Use includes holding the body of the phone to one’s ear (whether or not engaged in a phone call); entering or placing anything into the phone other than by the use of voice, or sending or looking at anything that is in the phone (this includes text messages and on-line content); turning the phone on or off; and operating any other function of the phone.

The new Rule prohibits mobile phone use when a vehicle is not parked, unless for receiving calls, playing audio files or as a GPS whilst the phone is held in a cradle manufactured for the purpose. Also allowed is receiving calls and playing audio where that does not require pressing or manipulating the body of the phone.

Oddly, an exception to the definition of use of a mobile phone has now been included so that passing it to a passenger is allowed, such as whilst the phone is ringing or receiving text messages if the message is not read. This exception appears to continue the potential for accidents due to driver distraction and creates a new legal defence of the slow but honest backhanded pass to any adult or child who happened to be in the vehicle.

David Gawthorne is a Senior Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay, and practises extensively in Family, Relationship and Matrimonial Law. If you require any assistance in this area please contact David Gawthorne to arrange a consultation or contact our Newcastle office.

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