Monday, 17 June 2019
MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATIONS HEALTH AND SAFETY NEWS

Changes to the Australian road rules for mobile GPS use backed by AMTA


cradle mapsThe Australian mobile phone industry has thrown its support behind changes to the Australian Road Rules to clarify the use of mobile devices as navigational aids.

 
In a submission to the National Transport Commission (NTC) AMTA endorsed the words of its NTC Chair, Greg Martin, that the national laws must be consistent and “current in the light of new technology and community expectations.”
 
Under the 10th amendment package currently under consultation, the NTC has changed Rules 299 and 300 to allow drivers to use their smartphones’ navigational functions provided a driver does not touch the handset while driving.
 
“AMTA’s members have been concerned about a lack of consistency and clarification of current road rules related to the use of GPS functionality on mobile handsets in vehicles,” AMTA’s submission said.
 
“It is our clear understanding that some states have prohibited the use of such functions while others have allowed it.”
 
“This has resulted in the untenable and undesirable situation whereby drivers faced inconsistent road rules, resulting in confusion for motorists, who are not clear on what they can and cannot do.”
 
“The mobile telecommunications industry markets its products and services into a national market and requires nationally-consistent rules to apply to the use of its technology.
 
“Inconsistent road rules related to mobile technology create confusion and a burdensome administrative task for carriage service providers and handsets manufacturers marketing their devices in Australia.”
 
Confusion about the road rules for mobile phone use and a lack of information about how drivers can use their phones more safely has lead the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association to launch the new website KeepYourEyesOnTheRoad.org.au.
 
The website explains that under current laws adopted in the ACTSouth Australia and Tasmania, drivers are banned from using their phone-based GPS maps but are allowed to use portable navigation devices for the same purpose.
 
Northern TerritoryNew South WalesVictoria and Western Australia have added exemptions to their road rules, which allow the use of mobile phones for GPS navigation provided that the driver does not touch the phone and the handset is mounted in a commercially approved car cradle/holder affixed to the windscreen or dashboard in a location that will not distract or obscure the drivers view.
 
“There is no particular safety difference between GPS navigation delivered by an in-built system or a phone-based GPS or by a portable navigation device because the latest GPS software does not require drivers to look at the screen because directions are given by turn-by-turn voice instructions,” AMTA’s submission said.
 
“AMTA believes that when regulators fail to adhere to a technologically-neutral approach it can result in arbitrary outcomes that create confusion for motorists and lead to a series of unintended consequences that can impact on safety issues.”
 
The KeepYourEyesontheRoad website has information for drivers about the road laws in each Australian State and Territory as well as lots of handy tips for safer driving including advice on using car cradles, hands-free devices and new smartphone features to reduce risks.
 
Published 6 November 2013

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