It is a common sight to see drivers at traffic lights with their heads bowed tapping away or dialling their mobile phone beneath window height on their lap to avoid detection from police.

Using your phone on your lap is not only illegal in every State in Australia, it is also highly dangerous as it increases a driver’s need to look away from the road.

A legal and far safer way to make a phone call in the car is to place your phone in a cradle affixed to the windscreen or dashboard at eye line level and to use the loudspeaker function or Bluetooth and hands-free devices.

In all Australian States and Territories drivers are required to have their mobile phone completely hands-free or mounted in a dock or cradle affixed to the car if they want to talk on the phone while driving.

Australia-wide laws also allow for the use of Bluetooth and hands-free devices provided the driver does not touch the handset unless it is mounted in a cradle.

Car cradles can be very inexpensive and when attached to the dashboard or windscreen can reduce risks associated with reaching for handsets and help minimise eye time off the road by getting the phone up to the eye line level with the road and within easy reach. Research has shown reaching for objects in cars increases crash risk by 8.8 times for adult drivers.

However, legal hands-free phone use is not appropriate in all road and traffic situations and drivers should consider whether to make calls in heavy traffic, at intersections or in bad weather or poor road conditions.

For more information check the details of the specific laws in your State or Territory.keep your eyes on the road

What about using mobiles for maps and music?

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.

Using mobile phones for audio functions while driving is not allowed under the current and proposed Australian Road Rules.

However, the Australian road rules are model laws only and must be adopted in each State or Territory, which is not always the case. 

Unfortunately the current rules for using mobile phones for music and GPS/satellite navigation purposes are quite confusing across Australia’s different States and Territories.

Under current laws adopted in the ACT, South Australia and Tasmania, drivers are banned from using their phone-based GPS maps but are allowed to use portable navigation devices for the same purpose.

Northern Territory, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia have added exemptions to their road rules, which allow the use of mobile phones for GPS navigation provided that the driver does not touch the phone and the handset is mounted in a commercially approved car cradle/holder affixed to the windscreen or dashboard in a location that will not distract or obscure the drivers view.

New South Wales and Victorian laws also allow audio playing functions if the mobile phone is mounted in a cradle under the above stipulations.

The road laws in Queensland are less clear and offer no specific advice on using mobile phones for navigation purposes when placed in a cradle.

We recommend all drivers check the details of the specific laws in your State or Territory to be certain you comply with the law.

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