The Australian Road Rules contain the basic rules of the road for motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians, passengers and others. They are ‘model laws’ that were initially created in 1999 under an agreement under which each Australian state and territory agreed that it would adopt the Rules into its laws.

The purpose of the agreement was to provide for uniformity across Australia in relation to road rules so that people were not confronted with different requirements as they travelled from one state or territory to another. Unfortunately in the case of mobile phone use laws this has not happened.

The 8th amendment package of the Australian Road Rules enacted in 2009, proposed changes to Rule 300 clarifying the ban on handheld mobile phone use while driving.

The rule change prevents drivers from placing a phone on their laps to use the speaker function or to hold a mobile between their neck and shoulder to avoid handheld laws.  Drivers can only use a wired or wireless hands-free device or phone that is mounted in a cradle to make a voice call.

However, as 'model laws' the Australian Road Rules have no legislative force of their own and because not every state and territory have completely adopted the new rules for mobile phone use, the legislation does differ from state to state.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has recently announced the 10th package of proposed amendments to the Australian Road Rules which will enable drivers to use mobile phones as navigational aids.

We recommend all drivers refer to the specific laws in their State or Territory to ensure they know exactly what they can and cannot do with their mobile phones behind the wheel.

keep your eyes on the roadOutlined below is a full description of rule 300 from the Australian Road Rules - February 2012 version (pdf).

300 ‘Use of mobile phones’

(1) The driver of a vehicle must not use a mobile phone while the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked, unless:

(a) the phone is being used to make or receive a phone call (other than a text message, video message, email or similar communication) and the body of the phone:

(i) is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle while being so used; or

(ii) is not secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle and is not being held by the driver, and the use of the phone does not require the driver, at any time while using it, to press anything on the body of the phone or to otherwise manipulate any part of the body of the phone; or

(b) the vehicle is an emergency vehicle or a police vehicle;


(c) the driver is exempt from this rule under another law of this jurisdiction.

(2) For the purposes of this rule, a mobile phone is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle if, and only if—

(a) the mounting is commercially designed and manufactured for that purpose; and

(b) the mobile phone is secured in the mounting, and the mounting is affixed to the vehicle, in the manner intended by the manufacturer.

(3) For the purposes of this rule, a driver does not use a phone to receive a text message, video message, email or similar communication if:

(a) the communication is received automatically by the phone; and

(b) on and after receipt, the communication itself (rather than any indication that the communication has been received) does not become automatically visible on the screen of the phone.

(4) In this rule:

affixed to, in relation to a vehicle, includes forming part of the vehicle;

body, in relation to a mobile phone, means the part of the phone that contains the majority of the phone's mechanisms;

held includes held by, or resting on, any part of the driver's body, but does not include held in a pocket of the driver's clothing or in a pouch worn by the driver;

mobile phone does not include a CB radio or any other two-way radio;

use, in relation to a mobile phone, includes any of the following actions by a driver:

(a) holding the body of the phone in her or his hand (whether or not engaged in a phone call), except while in the process of giving the body of the phone to a passenger in the vehicle;

(b) entering or placing, other than by the use of voice, anything into the phone, or sending or looking at anything that is in the phone;

(c) turning the phone on or off;

(d) operating any other function of the phone.

For more information about the Australian Road Rules visit the National Transport Commission website.

keep your eyes on the road

road rules
Australian road rules | Back to top