Monday, 19 October 2009 12:55

Australian state lifts ban on driving with phone GPS

Using the navigation and music functions of a mobile phone will not - after all - be made illegal in the Australian state of Victoria. Is this a victory for common sense?

As recently reported, a change to the road rules in Victoria, Australia would have made it illegal for a driver to use the navigation functions of a GPS-enabled mobile phone, such as an iPhone running one of the navigation apps now available from Apple's App Store.

The change was one of several due to come into effect on November 9.

The regulation was intended to tighten up on the use of a handheld phone. It seems there was concern that someone making an illegal phone call or SMS might try to avoid a fine or prosecution by claiming they were using the phone's navigation function.

However, using a single-function GPS device would still have been legal, as would operating an in-car audio system.

The state government has now apparently changed its mind and realised there is no real difference between using a dedicated GPS or audio system and using those functions when they are part of a phone.

According to Vic Roads' (the state road authority) web site, "The new mobile phone rules have been revised. The change now allows both the navigational (GPS) and audio/music functions of a mobile phone to be used, provided the mobile phone is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle."

Please read on to find out how Vic Roads now summarises the forthcoming rule.

Vic Roads goes on to say that:

"Using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited, except to make or receive a phone call or to use its audio/music functions provided the phone:

"is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle,
can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone.

"Using a phone as a GPS while driving is prohibited unless it is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle.

"All other functions (including video calls, texting and emailing) are prohibited.

"Learner and P1 drivers, are prohibited from using a mobile phone at all while driving."

But be warned: it will still be illegal to hold a phone (or rest it in your lap) for any reason while driving.

At least one observer has described the revised rule change as a victory for common sense.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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