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Victoria updates rules for driving with portable devices

Drivers in Victoria now have updated rules and regulations for the use of portable devices, such as mobile phones and smart watches, while driving. The penalties for improper use of such devices, however, remains the same.

The new regulations for the use of portable devices, including mobile phones, while driving in Victoria, have been summarised by the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV).

The state’s goal is to improve the management of portable devices and offer clear guidelines for drivers regarding their permissible use, particularly with regard to using a mobile phone for legitimate purposes, such as navigation. The insurer has outlined the following rules for Victorian drivers.

Rules for portable devices such as unmounted or loose mobile phones, tablets, laptops, media players and game consoles:

  • Fully licenced drivers can connect their unmounted portable device to Bluetooth and place it out of sight and reach, provided it is set up before a journey commences.
  • Fully licenced drivers can also use a portable phone or their device to pay at a drive-through.

When driving, fully licenced drivers are not permitted to:

  • Touch an unmounted portable device in any way and regardless of whether the device is on or off, even when stationary but not parked.
  • Allow a portable device to be in their lap or resting on any part of their body or clothes (unless it is in a pocket or a holding pouch attached to their clothes e.g. to their belt).
  • Look at the display of a portable device being operated by another person.
  • Use an unmounted device for reading or entering text, scrolling, or viewing images, social media, websites, or videos. 

Rules for mounted devices (mobile phones & tablets) and inbuilt navigation/entertainment systems 

(Note: For mobile phones and tablets, the mounting must be commercially designed and manufactured for that purpose, and the device must be secured in the mounting.)

  • As a general rule, fully licenced drivers are not permitted to use mounted and inbuilt devices for reading or entering text, scrolling or viewing images, social media, websites, or video.

As a fully licenced driver, you can:

  • Use mounted devices for navigation, audio calls, and playing audio (such as music or podcasts).
  • Briefly touch your inbuilt device to adjust navigation settings, climate controls and audio functions (such as adjusting the volume or selecting a song).

Rules for wearable devices such as smart watches, smart glasses, motorbike helmets, and wearable heads‐up displays

When driving, fully licenced drivers must not:

  • Touch the device (other than by incidental contact caused by wearing the device). 
  • Look at the display of a wearable device being operated by another person in the motor vehicle. 
  • Use a wearable device for navigation (except when wearing a motorbike helmet device), reading or entering text, scrolling, or viewing images, social media, websites, or video.

As a fully licenced driver, you can:

  • Use wearable devices for audio calls and playing audio (such as radio, music, or podcasts). 
  • If you drive for work and need to interact with a device to do certain tasks, some professional driving tasks are permitted. See the VicRoads website for further details.

Penalties

VicRoads says though the rules are changing the penalties for breaching these rules are not.

Illegal use of a mobile phone (or other device) attracts a $555 fine and four (4) demerit points.  

If the matter is heard at court, VicRoads says the fine for illegal mobile phone/device use can be as much as $1,849.

Learner and probationary drivers will lose their permit / licence if they accumulate more than four (4) demerit points in a year (compared with a full licence holder who cannot accumulate more than 12 in a 3-year period).

Mobile phone and seatbelt detection cameras

VicRoads has also announced more mobile phone and seatbelt cameras coming to the state of Victoria.

The cameras will capture drivers who are holding mobile phones or other devices while driving, as well as drivers and passengers who are not wearing seatbelts, or not wearing them properly.

Where the cameras detect a passenger not wearing a seatbelt, only the driver will be issued with an infringement notice for failing to ensure the passenger is wearing a seatbelt. 

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