As with most countries, the holding and use of a mobile phone whilst driving has been banned in Australia for a number of years, with 3 License demit points and a fine for those caught doing so.
However, it is still an every day occurrence and common sight on Australian roads today. VicRoads, the Victorian Road Authority, reports that you are 4 times likely to be involved in an accident when using a mobile phone and a staggering 23 times more likely if texting.
The Victorian Government has decided to get tough on this issue and has introduced Australia’s most stringent regulations governing the use of Mobile phones, GPS units, Televisions etc whilst driving. These new regulations came into effect on 9th November 2009 in Victoria and include the following:
- You cannot use your mobile phone unless it is secured in a commercially designed Car Kit or it can be operated without actually touching it (i.e. you have a Blue Tooth hands free kit)
- You can use earpieces connected to the phone via a cord as long as you do not press any buttons on the phone or touch the phone
- You can only use your phone in a Car Kit to make and receive calls or play music
- You cannot use your mobile phone for any other function such as texting, video calls or email
- Learners and P1 Drivers cannot use a mobile phone in any way whilst driving
- Holding or sitting your mobile on your knee or lap is prohibited. (simply put if you’re driving don’t touch your mobile phone at all)
- A GPS unit can only be used if it is an integrated part of the vehicle design or secured in a commercially designed car kit.
- Any Television or other Visual Display Unit cannot be operated if it visible to the Driver or is likely to distract another driver.
A good point to note that being stuck in a traffic jam or at traffic lights constitutes as driving therefore all the above continues to apply.
One of the times when you are more likely to step outside regulations such as these is where you are out of your normal driving environment, for example when hiring a car. Fortunately Car Manufactures and Car rental companies are coming to the rescue on this front.
Once the domain of luxury foreign imports, over the last couple of years more manufacturers are including embedded Blue Tooth functionality into a wider range of vehicles. As rental companies update their fleets, these Blue Tooth equipped cars are becoming more readily available for hire. It’s simply a case of pairing your phone with your vehicle when you pick it up.
DriveNow Partner and sometime blog contributor