Can a front seat passenger use a mobile phone? A lot of motor vehicle passengers may have asked themselves this question while they are travelling. Like most people, we use mobile phones for a lot of things like social media, communication, and entertainment.
Indeed, it has been a rule of thumb that drivers should not use their mobile phones while driving. Mobile phone usage while driving is a serious traffic offence. When drivers use their phones, it can lead to a lot of road accidents. As a consequence, it carries heavy penalties. That’s why while driving, a lot of drivers refrain from using their phones or conducting any activities other than driving
Mobile phone detection cameras target drivers who are using their mobile phone illegally across NSW anywhere, anytime. But what about passengers? Are there laws that prohibit the usage of a passenger’s phone while in the car? This article will answer the question “Can a front seat passenger use a mobile phone?”.
- In Australia, front seat passengers can generally use their mobile phones while a vehicle is in motion. However, there are some restrictions in place, such as they should not let the driver hold the phone, or the phone should not obstruct the driver’s view.
- Drivers must not use hand-held mobile phones while driving, and they must not use any mobile phone while driving in a school zone.
- The penalties for illegal mobile phone use while driving can be severe including attracting fines, demerit points, and even disqualification from driving.
- Mobile phone usage can be a relevant factor in traffic law cases, such as when determining liability in a car accident.
Can a Front Seat Passenger Use a Mobile Phone in NSW?
According to NSW Government, a passenger can use their mobile phones as long as it isn’t obstructing the driver’s view. In fact, Section 299 of the Road Rules 2014 prohibits drivers from having any visual display unit or video display unit while they are driving.
This means that even if the passenger is not trying to show the driver what is on the screen, it is illegal if any part of the screen is visible to the driver in the normal driving position. However, this rule does not apply to drivers if:
- The driver is driving a bus and the screen is displaying a destination sign or other bus sign.
- The screen is used as a driver’s aid and is either built into the vehicle or secured in a mount while being used.
- The screen is a mobile data terminal fitted to a police or emergency vehicle.
- The driver or vehicle is exempt from this rule under another law.
Can a Front Seat Passenger Use a Mobile Phone in QLD?
We have now answered the question ‘can a front seat passenger use a mobile in NSW?’. But what about in anther state like Queensland (QLD)? In QLD, there is no specific rule prohibiting the use of mobile phones by front seat passengers. Queensland government states that passengers of learner and P1 provisional drivers cannot use the mobile phone’s loudspeaker function.
ABC News also published an article about our topic ‘can a front seat passenger use a mobile phone in QLD?’. In December 2022, Queenslanders were fined $159 million for using mobile phones or not wearing seatbelts while driving. These offences included:
- More than 170,000 drivers and front-seat passengers caught by cameras, with over 119,000 drivers using their phones illegally; and
- Over 52,000 drivers or front-seat passengers not wearing seatbelts correctly or at all.
Safe Ways for Passengers Who Want to Use Their Phones
How can a front seat passenger use a mobile phone without distracting the driver? It’s still highly recommended for passengers to avoid using their phones to avoid distracting their driver. Here are some safe ways for front seat passengers and drivers to use their mobile phones without distractions:
- Use a hands-free device. This is the safest way to use your phone while driving, as it allows you to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
- If you must use your phone hand-held, do so sparingly and only when necessary. Pull over to a safe location before making or receiving a call or sending or receiving a text message.
- Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to put your phone away if needed. For example, if the driver needs to make a sudden manoeuvre, you should put your phone away so that you can stay safe.
- Do not use your phone for activities that require your full attention, such as watching videos or playing games.
- If you are using a navigation app, make sure that it is mounted securely. Can a front seat passenger use a mobile phone for app navigation? Yes. Usually they are the ones responsible for dictating directions to the driver for safety reasons. This way, drivers can see the directions without having to take their eyes off the road.
- Use a phone case with a stand. This will allow you to prop up your phone so that you can see it without having to hold it in your hand.
- Use a voice assistant. This can help you to make calls, send texts, and control your music without having to touch your phone. This can apply to both drivers and passengers.
- Activate silent mode or ‘do not disturb’ function on phones.
How Can Traffic Lawyers Help?
We hope this article has answered the question “Can a front seat passenger use a mobile phone? Mobile phone usage is a complex and ever-evolving area of law. With the increasing popularity of smartphones and other mobile devices, it is more important than ever to be aware of the legal implications of using them while driving.
Have been caught using your mobile phone while driving? What if you were involved in an accident as a result of mobile phone usage? If so, it is important to seek legal advice from a qualified traffic lawyer. JB Solicitors can help you understand your legal rights and options, and can represent you in court if necessary. Here are some specific instances where our lawyer can help with mobile phone usage:
- You were caught using your mobile phone while driving and have received an on the spot fine or demerit points. We can help you challenge the maximum court imposed fine or points, or to reduce the penalty.
- You were involved in an accident as a result of mobile phone usage. Our lawyers can help you with investigation and claim compensation for your injuries.
- You are a business owner and you have an employee who has been caught using their mobile phone while driving. Our team can help you to manage the situation and to comply with your legal obligations.
Contact us today if you have more questions aside from “Can a front seat passenger use a mobile phone?”