New Tasmanian driving law banning mobile GPS is inconsistent and confusing


New Tasmanian road rules banning drivers from using mobile phones for navigation services are inconsistent in their treatment of GPS devices, says the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA).


AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, said last week’s Tasmanian Government announcement banned drivers from using their phone-based GPS while allowing them to use a portable navigation aid for the same purpose.


“It’s hard to understand the logic behind this decision because there is very little, if any, difference in the way the two devices work – in many cases they use the same software,” he said.


“There are no particular safety differences between GPS navigation delivered by a built-in system or by phone-based GPS or by a portable navigation device because the latest GPS software does not require drivers to look at the screen as directions are given via turn-by-turn voice instructions.


"Under the new laws, many Tasmanians who want the assistance of GPS navigation will face the added complexity of two devices in cradles on their windscreen – a phone and a navigation device.”


Mr Althaus said the new law’s inconsistency in the treatment of devices with the same functions would create confusion among drivers.


“Many thousands of Tasmanians will be buying new mobile phones for Christmas. I wonder if consumers realise that after investing in a phone with the latest functions they will not be allowed to use their phone-based GPS or MP3 music functions while driving. However, if the same functions are present in a device without a telephony function then use is unrestricted,” he said.


Mr Althaus said Tasmania had rejected the recent approach adopted by Victoria, which allows its drivers to use phone-based GPS and MP3 functions provided the device is held in an approved cradle.


Earlier this year, New Zealand also changed tack on this issue and allowed drivers to use GPS mobile phones after a public outcry.


Mr Althaus said the Tasmanian mobile GPS ban would also prevent drivers getting real-time traffic information including warnings on potential driving hazards which is a feature of modern GPS systems.


The Government needs to re-think its approach on these issues and recognize the common-sense responses taken by Victoria and NZ.




For more information contact Randal Markey, AMTA, Manager Communications, (02) 6239 6555 or 0421 240 550


AMTA is the peak industry body representing the mobile telecommunications industry in Australia.

Its members include: Telstra; Optus; VHA; Virgin Mobile; AAPT; Nokia; Samsung; Motorola; LG; Sony Ericsson.