How to legally use a phone while driving – Australia 2020
Tougher penalties have started rolling out across the nation for mobile phone use while driving. New camera technology to catch mobile phone users has also been introduced. This isn’t a new law about phone usage but rather stronger enforcement of the law. As an example, the usage of Google Maps safely and legally would require it to be completely voice-controlled and in a ‘commercially designed and manufactured mount’. This article is aimed at ensuring you can legally and safely still use a GPS navigational aid (vehicle GPS or smartphone).
|State||New Fine||Demerit Points lost|
As of 01/02/2020*
What are my options for using a navigator legally?
You have a couple of options available to avoid these new fines and drive legally while still retaining a useful navigational aid. One option is to go with a dedicated vehicle GPS capable of voice commands like the Garmin DriveSmart series – I’ll have a list below of GPS units capable of voice activation. Another option is to use your phone with hands-free voice commands in a ‘commercially designed mount’.
List of Garmin GPS units with hands-free voice navigation:
How will they detect mobile phone usage while driving?
An Artificial intelligence system capable of taking pictures of every single front row cabin of every car that passes by them. These pictures are then reviewed by the AI system to determine if a mobile phone is present anywhere on the drivers' body, if it deems that there is a mobile on the drivers' person then it sends that image to human to analyse it further and confirm that they are using a mobile while driving.
How to use voice controls while driving completely hands-free (Android and iPhone)
Android Phones – Hands-free voice control (while driving only)
- For this, you will need to either download the app Android Auto
- Install this app to your phone and allow the permission requests on features you would like to use via voice (maps, SMS, calls, etc.)
- Allow Android Auto to show notifications
- That’s it you’re done, just open this app before driving and place your phone into your secure mount and you’re ready to go with hands-free voice control
Android Phones – Hands-free voice control (Available all the time)
This option is available if you’re happy to have voice access all the time, no need to have a specific driving app, this does mean you could activate google at any time whether by accident or on purpose if it hears the commands ‘ok google’ or ‘hey google’.
- Turn this on by opening your Google App
- Clicking more, then selecting settings, then voice, then voice match, finally select ‘access with voice match’ this will allow you to use voice commands all the time.
Basic Command List
- Let Google know you’re about to say a command by saying “Ok Google” or “Hey Google”.
- “Hey Google, navigate to X address”.
- “Hey Google, add X to our route”.
Apple iPhones – Hands-free voice control
- iPhones have voice commands on all the time unless specifically disabled so you will only need to use a secure mount to display the mounts.
What’s a ‘commercially designed and manufactured mount’?
These are mount that have been specifically designed for use while driving. Our recommendation here would be to use RAM mounts as they are backed by a lifetime warranty and offer the widest range in terms of different mounting styles, mobile phone cradles and compatibility with phones.
New South Wales Mobile Phone Laws
NSW allows for mobile phone usage as a navigational aid as long as it’s in a secure mount and hands-free usage. This is a link to the exact wording on the usage of mobile phones while driving for NSW.
Queensland Mobile Phone Laws
QLD allows for mobile phone usage as a navigational aid as long as it’s in a secure mount and hands-free usage. Queensland new $1000 fine will be in effect - 1 February 2020.
Australian Capital Territory Mobile Phone Laws
ACT allows for mobile phone usage as a navigational aid and it’s used in a hands-free manner.
SA Mobile Mobile Phone Laws
South Australia allows for mobile phone usage as a navigational aid as long as it’s in a secure mount and hands-free usage.
WA Mobile Mobile Phone Laws
Western Australia allows for mobile phone usage while driving only when the phone is a secure mount and is using voice activation.
Northern Territory Mobile Phone Laws
The Northern Territory allows for mobile phone usage as a drivers aid while it is in a secure mount and functions via hands-free voice activation.
Victoria Mobile Phone Laws
Victoria requires a mobile phone to be secured in a commercially designed holder and needs to be able to function hands-free.
Tasmania Mobile Phone Laws
Tasmania only allows for mobile phones to be used while driving while the phone can be operated hands-free via voice activation and in a secure mount.
Legal Disclaimer: This article was written to the best of my understanding and personal interpreation of the laws as of January 2020, readers should seek their own legal advice and conclusions based on the date they read the article and the state they live in.