Mobile phone detection cameras have been rolled out in NSW for almost twelve months now, after a three month trial commencing in December 2019.

The development of the cameras has been a real breadwinner for the NSW Government, with some $60.8m revenue raised between January 2020 and December 2020.

While police-issued fines had waned in recent years, the cameras have detected an astronomical amount of illegal mobile phone use by drivers, just shy of 140,000 offences in twelve months.

It’s not the only revenue raiser for the NSW Government, with moves a couple of months ago to increase the number of mobile speed cameras that are in unmarked vehicles and don’t need to be signed anymore (whereas previously, cameras were well signed in advance allowing drivers to slow down when passing them). We’ve seen speed cameras hidden by all sorts of things – parked behind trees, hidden behind temporary fence panels, other cars, etc – all of which so you can’t see them until it’s too late.

However, there are ways you can avoid becoming one of the 140,000 suckers that help keep our state government flush with funds – in simple terms, stop using your mobile while driving!

However, there are very limited exceptions to this rule, which we’ve taken below from the NSW Centre for Road Safety website:

  • You can use a phone to make or receive an audio phone call, provided that the phone is either:
    • Secured in a cradle fixed to the vehicle, or
    • Can be operated without touching any part of the phone (e.g. Bluetooth control through car radio)
  • You can use your phone to access music or audio functions, on the same proviso as above
  • You can use your phone as a drivers aid (e.g. navigation, dispatch app or speed monitor) only if it is fixed in a cradle attached to the vehicle
  • You can access your digital drivers licence, but only if a police officer has asked you to do so
  • You can use your phone as a digital wallet to pay for goods/services, provided the vehicle is both:
    • Stationary; and
    • Off the road (e.g. in a carpark, driveway or drive-thru area).

Any other functions are illegal, and make you liable for a penalty if caught. The only other time you can use a mobile phone when in a car is if the car is legally parked.

There’s some FAQs around the above rules, some of the interesting ones include:

  • Yes, you can dial a number on your phone while driving … though we think this is a pretty stupid idea; better to get a passenger to do it, or to pull over
  • No, you can’t hold your phone at all.
  • You must be parked to use any other function of your mobile phone while in a car, but no, your ignition does not need to be turned off. A legal park is sufficient.
  • You can use Bluetooth functions for music / calls / etc without your phone in a cradle, provided it’s in your pocket or somewhere other than in your hands/lap.
  • Ride-share drivers can use the normal functions of their apps e.g. Uber while driving, provided it’s in a cradle.
  • Mobile phone rules do not apply to GPS devices, even those that look like mobile phones; these must be mounted and must not obscure the driver’s view of the road but that’s about it

So, unless you want to pay $349 (or $464 in a school zone), it’s best to keep your phone in a cradle or in your pocket and leave it alone while driving.

Don’t be one of those people texting as you’re driving along and getting caught; best case you’ll cop a fine, worst case with your eyes off the road you might damage your vehicle, someone else’s, or hurt or kill someone else (or yourself).

We don’t need that.

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    Doug Wombat

    An appropriate tax on the stupid.