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How to safely use a mobile phone when in the car
Updated 12 Oct 2019
Over half of us admit to using our mobile phones whilst in the car. With all the reminders, fines and graphic images of what could happen if we use our phones we are still willing to admit to doing it.
There are still some misconceptions out there as to what you can actually get away with when it comes to using your phone in the car.
Most people think that they are safe as long as you don’t have the phone in your hand sending a text or talking.
We will debunk what you think, or have been told, so you know if you are being safe when using your phone.
Before we begin with what you can do legally with your phone in the car you should always check your local laws as there are sometimes variants between states and of course updates can occur at any time.
Can I Use my Phone When I’m at the Traffic Lights?
Many of us think that since our car is stationary in traffic snarls or at traffic lights we can pick up our phones to view a text or catch up on Facebook because we are not moving.
This is actually illegal because your vehicle is not parked. Police are more than happy to give you a fine and take away demerit points when they pull up next to you at lights or in traffic watching you quickly shoot off a text.
At the end of the day if your car engine is on and you are in the driver’s seat doing stuff on your phone, you can be booked.
So if you are one of the good ones that pull over to take a call or send a message, make sure you do it after you have turned the car off. This is also the case for motorcycles riders.
With the previous point in mind, is it OK to use your phone if you are not touching it?
Another huge misconception is that if you are not touching the phone then you are not doing anything wrong.
Having your phone on your lap or resting it on any part of your body as you drive is illegal. It is as bad as holding it, the only time you will get away with having a phone on you when your driving is if it is in your pocket.
So, is all phone use in the car illegal?
If you have a device mounted in a fixed cradle, where it is not leaning on anything to support it, then you can use the device as long as you do not have to touch it.
This means that if a call comes in you can take the call or send a message as long as you’re not touching the device.
If you touch the device to accept a call, send text, switch music or any other reason you are breaking the law and can be fined.You can use a fixed device as long as it is voice activated or it automatically answers and disconnects, via Bluetooth for example. By the way, this is the regulation on all devices, so smart watches or other technologies will need to be fixed in a holder before they can be used.
You can use a fixed device as long as it is voice activated or it automatically answers and disconnects, via Bluetooth for example.
By the way, this is the regulation on all devices, so smart watches or other technologies will need to be fixed in a holder before they can be used.
If you use your phone in the car for music, GPS or to receive calls and it is in a fixed cradle then you can use it as long as it is set up for functions to be used without touching the phone.
When you are setting up a cradle/ holder for any device make sure the position of the holder is not impeding your view of the road.
You may think you are doing the right thing by getting a holder but could then be breaking more laws by positioning your device in an illegal manner.
Why are the rules so strict for phone user in cars?
Driving is a complex and challenging task and any distraction increases accident risk. If you have lapses in judgement and attention this is seen as unsafe and increases your risk of having an accident.
When you take your eyes off the road for 2 seconds, this equates to 27 metres at 50 km/h. That’s ample time to do harm to yourself or someone else in just 2 seconds. Is it worth your life changing for that quick look on your phone?
If you feel the need to touch your phone, pull over, switch the car off and touch to your hearts content, once it is safe to do so. You’ve been warned.
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Rachel spent her early adult life around cars, motorsport and hands-on with her own cars. This interest moved into various careers within the Automotive industry. Joined with her passion for writing, Rachel loves putting the two together to share her experience, so we can all become AutoGuru’s.