Caught Touching Your Mobile? That'll Be $300, Says Latest NSW Road Rules

Dear NSW drivers -- the mere act of fondling your smartphone while behind the wheel could cost you $298 and three demerit points, according to a new road rules document from the Roads and Traffic Authority.

The document, available from the RTA's website (and apparently FROM THE FUTURE*), details a number of revisions to NSW's street regulations, though it's the mobile phone one that demands attention.

The new law states that the driver of a vehicle with its engine running (that is, not parked) cannot use a phone unless its mounted and fixed securely, or the use does not the driver to touch the device.

"All other functions including texting, video messaging, online chatting, reading preview messages and emailing are prohibited," it goes on to say. You can however touch the phone if you're passing it to someone else.

If caught, a driver can be fined $298 and three demerit points, or $397 and four points if in a school zone.

Victoria already has a similar law in place, so I doubt anyone down here will be shedding any tears for their more northern brethren.

Oh, and if you're a pet-loving bike rider, don't think you've off the hook. Carrying an animal in a position that would "interfere with the rider's ability to control the motor bike" could cost you $397 and three demerit points, or $496 and four points in a school zone.

So no more Sunday afternoon rides with Fluffy/Spike/whatever you call your pet terrapin.

* The documet is dated November 1 and damn it, I want to believe!

[RTA, via The Register]

Image: Corey Oltman / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0



    Just an FYI the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) is now called the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS)

    Now that drivers need to mount their smartphones when driving, check out this kickstarter project. (
    Works as a car mount for ALL smartphones! (as well as being a tripod mount).

      I have this car mount for my phone. Works a treat and is excellent value for $5.

    Can someone explain to me why they don't just fine $300 or $400?? It's always $298 or $397.. Is it so you can still afford something on maccas loose change menu??.. Whhhhhy!

      Most fines are set not as a fixed dollar value but as a number of penalty units. The dollar value of penalty units is then defined elsewhere in regulations, so that when the value is adjusted for inflation it only needs to be changed in one place.

      In Victoria a penalty unit is currently worth $141-something, so the fine for using your phone while driving (a 2-unit offence) is $282.

      NSW traffic fines seem to be on a separate system from the rest of their fines though, not sure how those work.

    I know you'd probably not get off the hook, but I wonder where cars with fuel saving features like turning the engine off while waiting at the lights sit.

      The author added the link to the PDF. If you clicked on it then shearch "mobile" first line is "While a vehicle is moving or stationary (but not parked)"

      The the "NOT PARKED" bit? Its also listed in the article.

        So you argue that you decided to park in a school zone in the middle of the road and save yourself a hunge

          In that case you'll also land yourself a fine for parking on a roadway.

    Just always have a book or magazine in the front of your car, that way if a cop thinks your playing with your phone you can show that you were actually reading directions you wrote down off this book. If you are stupid enough to show openly that you are using your phone then you should be fined.

      Not being able to change albums on Spotify when stopped at he lights sucks.
      I wonder if I can still do it if my phone is mounted....

      Bonus though is it will probably speed up traffic light queues.

      You just don't get it. The increased risk of having a crash is reason for the penalty. You probably think getting caught drunk at the wheel or doing burn outs is just bad luck. Young and dumb - sadly it's the funerals that provide the education.

        @Policeman, I think macdave was pointing out that just about everyone has spotify or some media streaming service on their phones these days, which is EXACTLY the same as my Pioneer BT3350 stereo... look it up, it's a touch screen, multi function car stereo that works EXACTLY like a phone when it comes to playing music... and yet, it's perfectly legal and my eyes are nowhere near the road when I try and find the change folder button to play a different song.

        While the incentive is a good one, too much focus has been put on to mobile phones and there is a serious lack of consistency when they apply these laws.

        Here in Queensland, I regularly see women doing their hair, putting on make up, changing CD's, cleaning their dash (!) and a whole plethora of other things, and yet the focus seems to be... on mobile phones.

        I was actually booked once for using my phone, even though I just picked it up to look at the time (here in Queensland), and seriously, they let the chick go in front of me putting on lipstick while using her rear vision mirror... because you know, according to the police woman, using your phone is an offence, using your rear vision mirror "isn't"... :-)

        Not smiley at the end, this is a friendly post. :-)

          Ha! You cannot possibly believe "that just about everyone has spotify or some media streaming service on their phones these days", can you? I don't know anyone who does. In fact, I am the only person I know who listens to music from their phone in the car and mine is all pre-loaded from my collection.

        Hah, the amount of police I see using phones while driving...

    What about the cops talking on the radio and such while driving? I've seen them do it while in a chase. Where is their $300 fine?

      FTP right!!!

      You chatting possible lives saved: 0
      Cop chatting possible lives saved: >= 0.

      And you know in a chase it could be something like "He has a gun." "avoid tonyintsv the tool 500m ahead talking on his phone who wont hear your sirens because he is yelling into his phone"

      Perhaps you should read your road rules a little more closely.

      Road Rule 300 (which relates to mobile phones) has a specific exemption for police and emergency vehicles. It also states, ""mobile phone" does not include a CB radio or any other two-way radio."

      So the cops can drive around chatting on whatever they like without breaching this road rule

        So we just need a CB radio "shell" for our mobiles and it'll all be ok!

        Yeah and don't get me started on those ambulance drivers and firetrucks. Speeding and CB radioing all over the place! It's totally exactly the same as me talking on my phone

      Are you the peanut that was weaving about in the outside lane on the M7 whilst driving between 80 and 110 kph? Why? Because he was send a txt message!! Here is a news flash for you phone/text/Facebook/email addicts - the police are the poor bastards that have to tell your parents that you died in a crash. Just put your bloody phone away. The world won't end if you respond to message an hour after it was sent - it will if you have a head on with truck.

      You're right! They also speed with those annoying lights flashing on top and making a loud noise - speeding, and distracting other drivers!
      Also, they carry guns! Carrying a weapon!
      Also, they arrest people - deprivation of liberty!

      Let's round those buggers up, shall we? I'm sure we can take care of preventing, investigating and solving crimes on our own.

      ...and one day, when you really need one, you'll be so glad to see one. And the next day, you'll be back to calling them 'pigs'. God I'm glad I'm not a cop.

    20% tint. Dark enough to make seeing inside difficult, not dark enough to get pulled over and booked automatically by the cops.

    I have a bluetooth car kit for talking and speech to sms anyway, but they can EAD that I'll not be able to change songs when stopped.

    What about using Navigation/GPS?

    "If not in a mounting, use of the mobile phone must not require a driver to touch or manipulate the phone in any way."

    If your car has bluetooth (and controls on the steering wheel), and your phone is sitting in a cup holder, thus neither 'fixed' nor 'mounted' you can still use it to make calls or answer, BUT, you can't use the GPS function in the phone. To use GPS you have to have the device fixed to the windshield or dash.

    Or the police should I force the road laws that help traffic flow.

    In Victoria the cops only need to SUSPECT that you were using your phone, and they can fine you at their discretion. I got accused of using my phone even though it was in my pants pocket, but it was cheaper for me to take the fine than to spend 2+ days out of work to fight it.
    Good luck my NSW comrades, hope you don't have a$#$hole cops that abuse this.

      I went to court to fight a mobile phone offence and won. The police did everything to try and convict me, even lie. However, my phone bill proved that I wasn't on the phone at that time.

        How is that possible? If someone else called you, it would not show up on your bill. If you really did get off, it sounds like you had a dumb magistrate and a dumb prosecutor.

          he could have misspoken MotorMouth. It is quite easy to request all call logs from the phone company that show both in and out going calls and texts. What they won't show though is if you are changing songs or something.

    Fair enough. I've been wondering if this was fine worthy lately, as I use my google maps traffic function at a long set of traffic lights to help me decide which way to go home.
    And whilst it looks like its from the future, it is only showing the date the new rules become effective. It would be silly of the RMS to only release the info the day the rules come into effect, as then people could claim they weren't informed if charged with an infringement.

    The fine should be automatic loss of licence for three months and $1000. Similar to low range drink driving, which, in my opinion is far less dangerous than a P plated Hyundai with four young girls send each other text messages!

      Policeman, I do think you are a bit too excited about this law. Your attempts to create a frenzy with those fines you have suggested, are a bit manic. Increase the points, increase the fine, not a suspension. That will automatically happen if they lose all their points.

      Sounds good. Meanwhile I'll receive no fine at all for playing around with my touch-screen Pioneer stereo and all the controls on my car; causing me to lose the same amount of focus on the road that using a mobile phone does. Inconsistency right?


        I've been in a car where a mate almost hit a parked car thanks to messing with his radio ( we had to yell at him to look up :/ ). Clearly that was perfectly safe though and if it was a phone he was messing with it would of been COMPLETELY DIFFERENT *ohmanIneedarollseyesGIFrighthere*

        So because there is already one distraction in your car, that justifies any number of extra distractions? I'm sure the state would happily band all touchscreens in cars if they could get away with it and they would probably be justified in doing so.

        But the real problem is that you probably do use your touchscreen whilst driving, without regard for how big a distraction/danger it is. Very few motorists take the job of driving nearly as seriously as they should and I'm all for any laws that attempt to redress that situation.

        Last edited 22/10/12 1:32 pm

        The Pioneer stereo is fixed to the dash though. People take more attention off the road trying to use their phone in their lap "hidden" from cops, or worse still, if they drop their phone and try to fish it out from between the seats at 80kmph.

      Nice strawman argument there. Not everyone who touches their phone at all is staring at it for minutes at a time. I've used GPS on my phone in quick bursts (which would be fine if it's a mounted GPS apparently) or quickly checked an SMS when stopped at lights ( both things which would net me fines it seems :/ ). I've also driven after having a small amount of drinks, enough to still be under the limit. Even with that small amount of booze it's far more dangerous than just quickly checking a phone.

      Your suggestion for punishment is amazingly ridiculous. Sure some people behave like idiots, but your suggestion is along the lines of "oh they were doing 10kph over the limit briefly? Clearly they are street racing all the time and we must crush their car into a cube to punish them!"

      I agree but police would need to use their discretion. I'd suggest that more than one offence, as there is with drink-driving, so that the punishment could fit the level of stupidity being displayed. e.g. A year without your license and a $1000 fine for initiating a speaker-phone conversation whilst stopped at the lights is a little excessive, whereas for composing an email whilst driving at 60km/h on a busy road, it is well within reason.

    So it's ok for me to look away from the road and change songs on my fixed stereo but I can't tap >> on the phone mounted on the windscreen in front of my steering wheel. Real smart.

      No, it is not alright, and I would hope you do not do it, it is just far too hard to police. But it is easy to police mobile phone use so that is what it being done.

        how is it any easier to police tapping on your phone to skip a song than it is it police reaching to the center console to press the skip button?

          I think the motorists who will actually be penalised under the legislation are those who the cops see with a phone to their ear and those, like the kid on 60 Minutes on Sunday, who admit to SMSing whilst driving after killing their friends in a crash.

            Problem is that some, not all, and certainly only a few cops are wankers and just want to get you for something or are trying to meet their unwritten quotas. This will lead to abuse and further exacerbate the us Vs. them relationship that is happening between police and the public. There needs to be something more than "I suspect that you were using your mobile phone"

              That is true of every law in existence. e.g. Do you know that you can be booked for drink-driving without ever having your breath tested? If you admit to a cop that you had had a few drinks before driving, you can be charged and convicted. It happened to a soldier of mine once. He drove home from the pub and at some time later the cops knocked on his door, asked him if he had been drinking, asked him if he had then driven home and charged him. He was convicted without a blood alcohol reading, purely on his admission. The cops came because someone rang them but they were never called as a witness.

    Just have a huge dashboard mounted computer and use that while you drive instead of your phone. The police do.

    Seious question time.. Are there any laws that could be applied to people who put a GPS unit in the middle of their windscreen? Hello massive blind spot right in front of me! It's even worse when I see it at night, a brightly lit screen facing at the driver, I'm surprised they can see anything out the window.

      In QLD, it is "drive without a clear view in all directions", $256 no points.

    I think there's some serious grammatical errors in this article. I don't normally nitpick, but when I have to re-read sentences just to understand what it's trying to convey, it's just annoying.

    >The new law states that the driver of a vehicle with its engine running (that is, not parked) cannot use a phone unless its mounted and fixed securely, or the use does not the driver to touch the device.

    Also, I wonder if the operation of hands-free devices is a violation according to these rules, i.e. touching the button on the hands-free device to answer or end calls. It's compounded by the idea that while they are so strict on mobile phone use, yet let people eat on the wheel, smoke or operate the dial on the car stereo.

      There may not be a specific law against eating behind the wheel but the police could (and should) fine those idiots for dangerous driving or some other, similar offence.

    I don't have a problem with this, mainly because I so rarely see a police car on the road that I can't see it as relevant to me at all. The chances of being caught are practically nil unless you are being really blatant/stupid about it, in which case you deserve to get done.

      It doesn't affect you so you don't have a problem with it...... that's why all these nanny state laws come in, because people act like if it doesn't affect them it isn't bad. I hate people like that.

        No, these "nanny state laws" come in because no-one applies even the tiniest amount of common sense on the road and because police no longer have the discretion to tell you to pull your head in if you are being a dick. When I first got my license, police didn't need an excuse to pull you over, they'd just do it on suss and hassle the krap out of you if you dared to give them any lip. They were good times because the vast majority of coppers were good blokes with a sense of fair play. These days everyone gives them lip and they have no power so laws like this are explicitly required to allow them to do their job.

        But you are missing my point. Laws only matter if they are enforced and this law, like most traffic law, won't be. Therefore it is irrelevant to me and to you and to everyone else. But as a law, I think it is a good move. Driver distraction is far and away the biggest cause of accidents, injury and death, as well as contributing substantially to traffic congestion and frustration on the roads. Every step taken to remove it as an issue is a good move.

          I think you have things about face there. People dont have any common sense because there are too many laws. If we had fewer laws, those to stupid to use common sense and therfore a genetic flaw, are killed off leaving those of us smart enough to continue the species. All part of the Darwin process.

    Hey Giz, would you be able to do a review/comparison of car phone mounts? Seems it would be appropriate considering this law, and most mounts wobble or the suction cup goes loose or fit phones poorly. I'd love to have a reference for this!

    I think this rule could be written alot better! What if you get lost and you pull over to the side of the road with your engine still running to put in GPS instructions? Would that apply if you are on the side of the road, off the lanes?

    So it's ok for me to look at my iPod touch whilst driving (which I only do at red lights) and change music. Yet a phone of the same size is illegal.

    Heck, I'm just going to mount my iPad right in the middle and watch YouTube videos on my way to work. Because it's 100% legal. Little bit backward if you ask me.

      No its not. If you have an accident, you will be charged with driving without due care and attention. This also automaticly invalidates your insurance.

    Just like cops hiding being bushes to catch people speeding is all about safety... What a load of shit.

    Though I completely agree about drunk drivers, they are scum.

    Here's an interesting article in today's Herald/Age -

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