Without intentional distraction (e.g. through mobile phone use), driving is the most dangerous thing people do on a regular basis. Laws exists to limit the actions people can take while driving to distract themselves from the task at hand and make this already dangerous activity even more hazardous. Below is a breakdown of the laws concerning mobile phone use for drivers in NSW.
Learner licence and Provisional P1 (Red Ps)
When on your Ls and Red Ps you are not permitted to use a phone at all while driving (including while stopped in traffic). You must be out of the line of traffic with the ignition off before you can use a phone in any way.
Provisional P2 (Green Ps) and Full Licence
When you graduate to your Green Ps, limited use of a phone while driving is permitted based on specific conditions.
When making/answering calls and using the media player the phone must be either:
- Mounted in a fixed cradle that doesn't obscure your view
- Able to be operated without touch input (e.g. Bluetooth or voice activation)
A phone can also be used as a driver’s aid (e.g. navigation) if it is mounted in a fixed cradle that doesn't obscure your view.
You must be parked out of the line of traffic to use your phone for any other function (including text messaging, email, social media, etc.). Holding a phone in any way except for passing it to a passenger is also prohibited. Being stopped in traffic (e.g. at traffic lights) is not classified as parked and you will be penalised if caught.
Drivers found guilty of breaking these laws face fines and may lose their licence through demerit point penalties. Currently, you can lose 3 points for such offences but from early 2016 this will increase to 4 points.
Putting mobile phone use in perspective
Although some people think they’re driving is unaffected by mobile phone use, they’re mistaken. Intentionally distracting yourself by dividing your attention between your phone and the road slows reaction time, and can make you miss hazards such as traffic lights, stop signs or other road users. Naturally this dramatically increases the chance of being involved in a crash.
It’s also important to note that using your phone while driving means you are knowingly increasing the risk to pedestrians and other road users without their consent. You should think about phone use while driving not just in the context of increasing your own risk and the consequences for you. You should also consider the increased chance that you could injure or kill others through your actions. This perspective makes things a lot clearer. If people understood the potential devastation they could impose on the lives of others, there would be a lot less mobile phone use by drivers.
You will be caught
Although the explanation above provides a clear picture of why not to use your phone while driving, it’s important to remember that it is against the law. The video below shows how easy it is to be seen using a phone and that it’s also easy to be caught.