After an initial warning period from December 2019, the New South Wales Government’s Mobile Phone Detection Camera program came into full effect on 1 March 2020. Now, if authorities catch a road user for the illegal use of a phone while driving, there are severe penalties.
The reason for these heavy fines for using a phone while driving, is because the program forms part of the Government’s overall strategy to eliminate road deaths and serious injuries by 2056. As part of the program the government hopes to eliminate illegal mobile phone use by using cameras detecting mobile phones.
Therefore, in order to avoid these severe fines, and in some cases, the possibility of losing your licence, it’s crucial that you understand what the law allows and what it doesn’t. In this way, you’ll know when you’ll be able to use your phone while driving and when not.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at these rules.
How Do Mobile Phone Detection Cameras Work?
Mobile phone detection cameras allow authorities to identify road users who contravene the law by using many cameras and an infra-red flash that allows them to capture images of passing traffic no matter what the traffic or weather conditions.
Advanced artificial intelligence algorithms then review these images. During this process, these algorithms identify all the images where there is a possible contravention of the law. Trained personnel then verify these images and confirm that the road user in question contravened the law. These motorists will then receive penalty notices for their illegal use of a phone while driving.
The system also eliminates images of motorists who did contravene any laws during the review process and deletes these images within an hour of detection.
When Is It Legal To Use Your Phone While Driving?
Mobile phone detection cameras are fairly inconspicuous which makes them difficult to spot. Also, they’re available in both mobile and fixed units, so authorities can place them anywhere. With that in mind, it’s always better to make sure that you adhere to the rules relating to when you can use your phone legally when driving.
These rules provide that it’s legal to use your phone when driving when you:
- Make or receive calls, provided that your phone is secured in a cradle fixed to your vehicle, or you’re able to make and receive calls without touching your phone by, for instance, using Bluetooth functionality.
- Listen to music or use other audio functions, provided that your phone is secured in a cradle fixed to your vehicle, or you’re able to use these functions without touching your phone by, for instance, using Bluetooth functionality.
- Use your phone as a driving aid by, for example, using it for navigation, as a dispatch system, or when using the Speed Adviser app. Here, this is only allowed if your phone is secured in a cradle fixed to your vehicle.
- Using the wallet functions of your phone to, for instance, perform transactions, show coupons or vouchers, or to gain access to a premises, provided that your vehicle is stationary and parked off the road.
- Access your Digital Driver’s Licence, provided that a police officer asks you to do so.
What Is Illegal Use of a Phone While Driving?
Considering the above, you won’t be able to legally use your phone in any way while driving if it’s not in terms of one of these rules. In addition, you won’t be able to use your phone for other functions like social media, web browsing, photography, texting, or video calling.
It’s also important to note that the rules mentioned above are only applicable to motorists with unrestricted licences. Therefore, if you’re the holder of a learner, P1, or P2 licence, you won’t be able to use your phone in any way.
As far as penalties for not complying go, they’re severe. The current penalty is five demerit points and a fine of $352. When you’re caught for the illegal use of a phone while driving in a school zone, this fine increases to $469, and during double demerit periods, the demerit points you’ll receive increases to 10.
Considering the heavy fines for using a phone while driving, it’s crucial that you understand what you’re allowed to do and what not. In turn, this requires an understanding of the rules relating to the use of mobile phones when driving. Hopefully, this post gave you this understanding and will allow you to avoid being caught on the wrong side of the law.
If you want to know more about these rules or if you feel that you’ve been incorrectly fined for illegal mobile phone use after detection on a mobile phone detection camera, you may need a traffic lawyer.