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By now you know that using a mobile phone when driving can be dangerous. Not only does it distract you from driving, but it also decreases your reaction times and could make you brake slower in an emergency.

For this reason, the New South Wales Government rolled out their Mobile Phone Detection Camera Program during March 2020. This program is part of their overall strategy to eliminate road deaths or serious injury by 2056.

By using cameras detecting phone use, the Government is able to identify those drivers who use their phones illegally when operating a motor vehicle. In turn, these drivers then face heavy fines for using a phone while driving. In fact, in some cases, drivers who use their phones illegally can lose their licenses.

Considering this, it’s crucial that you understand what is allowed and what is prohibited when it comes to phone use. In this post, we’ll look at the applicable rules in more detail.

What Are Mobile Phone Detection Cameras?

Mobile phone detection cameras are fairly inconspicuous, which makes them difficult to spot. And much like their speed camera counterparts, they’re there to identify those drivers who contravene the law.

The cameras actually use a number of cameras and an infra-red flash to capture images of passing motor vehicles, no matter what the traffic or weather conditions. Artificial intelligence algorithms are then able to identify those drivers who use their phones illegally when driving.

During this process, any images of drivers complying with the law are rejected and deleted within an hour of detection. Trained personnel then verify the images of offending drivers left behind. During this process, in other words, they confirm that these drivers contravened the law and will receive penalty notices.

Illegal Phone Use in a Vehicle

In terms of the rules, it’s illegal to use your phone for any functions like video calling, emailing, web browsing, social media, and photography while driving unless parked away from traffic. It will also be illegal for you to hold your phone or use it in any way while driving.

Any act stipulated above will constitute the illegal use of a phone while driving.

Legal Phone Use in a Vehicle

Considering the above, the question is: What is legal? The use of your phone while driving will be legal when:

  • * Making or receiving calls, provided that your phone is secured in a cradle that is fixed to your vehicle, or you’re able to make or receive calls without touching your phone by, for instance, using Bluetooth functionality.

  • * You listen to music or use other audio functions of your phone, provided that your phone is secured in a cradle that is fixed to your vehicle, or you’re able to use these functions without touching your phone by, for instance, using Bluetooth functionality.

  • * Using your phone as a driving aid, provided that your phone is secured in a cradle that is fixed to your vehicle. This will, typically, be the case when you use your phone for navigation, as a dispatch system, or when using the Speed Adviser app.

  • * Using the wallet functions of your phone, provided that your vehicle is stationary, and you’re parked off the road. This will be the case when you need to perform transactions, show vouchers or coupons, or use your phone to gain access to an area.

  • * You access your Digital Driver’s Licence only when a police officer asks you to do so.

Keep in mind that these rules are only applicable to holders of unrestricted licenses. Thus, if you’re a holder of a learner, P1, or P2 licence, you’re not allowed to use your phone while driving in any way.

What Are the Penalties?

As mentioned earlier, offending drivers will face heavy fines for using a phone while driving. The current penalty is five demerit points and a fine of $352. This penalty increases to 10 demerit points if the offence happens during a double demerit period and the fine increases to $469 when the offence occurs in a school zone.

For holders of learner, P1, or P2 licenses, the penalties can be especially severe. For example, if you’re a holder of a leaner or provisional P1 license, you’ll exceed your demerit point threshold and lose your license in the process.

Likewise, if you hold a learner, P1, or P2 license, and you’re caught for the illegal use of a phone while driving during a double demerit period, you’ll exceed your demerit point threshold and lose your license.

In Closing

As you can appreciate, to avoid the heavy fines for using a phone while driving, it’s crucial that you understand what you’re allowed to do and what you’re not. Hopefully, this post helped illustrate these aspects in more detail.

You may need a traffic lawyer if you want to know more about these rules or if you feel that you’ve been incorrectly fined for illegal mobile phone use after detection on a mobile phone detection camera.

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