Younger drivers face many challenges when learning the complex task of driving a vehicle. With their inexperience, they also face a higher risk of danger, which is why there are a number of restrictions for Learner, P1 and P2 drivers and riders.
New mobile phone rules for Provisional P2 licence holders
What are the changes?
Just like Learner and Provisional P1 licence holders, from 1 December 2016, Provisional P2 licence holders are also banned from using any function of a mobile phone while driving or riding including while stationary but not parked.
Why can’t Learner, Provisional P1 and Provisional P2 drivers and riders use their mobile phones?
Driving is a complex activity and anything that takes your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road or mind off driving is dangerous, not just for you but for everyone else on the road.
Between 2011 and 2015, drivers holding Provisional P1 or Provisional P2 licences made up eight per cent of all licence holders, yet accounted for 15 per cent of driver fatalities.
There is no acceptable number for deaths on our roads. To help drive the road toll Towards Zero, we need to limit the distractions and the risk for novice drivers as much as possible, which is why the ban has been extended to include Provisional P2 licence holders.
Can Provisional P2 drivers and riders use a mobile phone through Bluetooth technology?
No. Just like Learners and Provisional P1 licence holders, Provisional P2 licence holders are not permitted to use any function of a mobile phone while driving or riding. This includes operating the mobile phone for music or GPS functionality through the use of Bluetooth technology or voice activation.
Can Provisional P1 and Provisional P2 drivers and riders use GPS devices?
Use of a mobile phone’s GPS function is prohibited for Learners, Provisional P1 and Provisional P2 drivers and riders.
However, Provisional P1 and Provisional P2 drivers and riders can use dedicated GPS devices. Under the NSW Road Rules, a GPS device is an example of a driver’s aid and can only be used if it is secured in a mounting that is commercially designed and manufactured for that purpose and fixed to the vehicle as per the manufacturer’s intentions or is integrated as part of the vehicle design.
A GPS can only be used if it does not require a mobile phone to function.
Can Provisional P2 drivers and riders use their mobile phone to play music?
No, just like Learner and Provisional P1 drivers and riders, Provisional P2 licence holders are not permitted to use any function of a mobile phone, including audio for music, while driving or riding.
Can passengers in a vehicle driven by a Provisional licence holder use their mobile phone for music or GPS?
Yes, the restriction on mobile phones only applies to the licence holder driving the vehicle. However, the mobile phone must not obscure the driver’s view of the road or distract the drivers of other vehicles.
It is important the passenger understands the dangers of distraction and doesn’t distract the driver through the use of their mobile phone. Driving whilst distracted increases the risk of a crash. Simply taking your eyes off the road for longer than two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
Can Provisional P1 and Provisional P2 drivers and riders use a tablet device or music device?
The use of tablet and music devices that are not mobile phones depends on the features of the device and how it is being used.
Drivers of all licence categories must not use a visual display unit such as a tablet device (iPad, Galaxy etc.) or music device (iPod etc.) while driving if any part of the screen is visible to the driver from the normal driving position or is likely to distract another driver.
This rule does not apply if the visual display unit is being used as a driver’s aid such as for navigation. Whilst the visual display unit is being used as a driver’s aid, it must be in a mounting fixed to the vehicle or in an integrated part of the vehicle design.
In order to comply with this rule, visual display units visible to the driver must not be used for a function that is not a driver’s aid, for example music, app notification, social media etc.
Are Provisional P2 drivers and riders who use their mobile phone for work exempt from the ban?
Under the new rules, Provisional P2 drivers (unless they are the driver of an emergency or police vehicle) are not permitted to use mobile phones for work purposes while driving or while the vehicle is stationary but not parked.
Provisional P2 licence holders who may need to use a mobile phone as part of their job must now pull over and park the vehicle in a safe location before using their phone.
Does the mobile phone ban apply to motorcyclists?
The ban applies to all Learner, P1 and P2 licence holders, including motorcycle riders.
What are the penalties if you are a Provisional P1 or Provisional P2 driver or rider and you are caught using a mobile phone?
Provisional P1 and Provisional P2 licence holders who illegally use a mobile phone face a $325 fine and the loss of 4 demerit points. If Provisional P1 and Provisional P2 licence holders illegally use a mobile phone in a school zone they face a $433 fine and the loss of 4 demerit points. Mobile phone offences are also included in double demerit periods.
Why has this change been introduced?
The new mobile phone rule for P2 licence holders that came into effect on 1 December 2016 and the other changes to the Graduated Licensing Scheme (announced in July 2016 for implementation in November 2017) are being introduced to help novice drivers – particularly young drivers (aged between 17 and 25) – to become safe and low risk drivers.
Novice drivers continue to be over-represented in serious crashes in NSW. Crash data from the last five years (2011 – 2015) show that drivers on a P1 or P2 licence made up eight per cent of all licence holders in NSW yet accounted for 15 per cent of driver fatalities. Serious injury data for the same period show that over 5,300 young drivers were seriously injured in crashes on NSW roads.
Mobile phones and other mobile tablet and music devices are major sources of distraction for all drivers but in particular for novice drivers who are still building driving experience and developing safe low risk driving skills and behaviours.
What else is being done to improve safety for young drivers?
The NSW Graduated Licensing Scheme (GLS) aims to prepare novice drivers to be safe and low risk drivers through a staged approach to driver licensing that builds on-road experience in a range of conditions, and improves hazard perception, knowledge of road rules and risk management for safe driving.
While the NSW GLS applies to novice drivers of all ages, it is mainly designed to support young drivers, who make up over two-thirds of all novice drivers in NSW.
In addition to the extending the mobile phone ban for P2 licence holders, the introduction of the other changes in November 2017 (such as removing the Driver Qualification Test, moving the Hazard Perception Test and introducing tenure extension for Provisional P2 drivers) will strengthen the GLS to improve novice driver safety.
In July 2013 the NSW Government introduced the Safer Driver Course to help learner drivers become safer drivers as they progress to driving solo as a provisional licence holder. The Safer Driver Course curriculum builds awareness of risks and safe driving behaviour driving such as speed management, gap selection, hazard awareness and safe following distances.
The Course is subsidised by the Community Road Safety Fund and is capped at $140 per learner and is available at around 200 locations in NSW. As at 30 October 2016, over 61,000 young learner drivers have completed the Course. This represents approximately 30 per cent of young drivers on their P1 licence who have completed the Course.
The Course has also been extended to provide 1,000 free places for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The NSW Government also funds comprehensive public education campaigns that address known behavioural issues that contribute to road trauma including the:
- Plan B drink driving campaign which encourages positive choices to get home safely after a night out, reinforcing the safety message that if you are having a few drinks, driving is not an option;
- Don't Trust Your Tired Self campaign which focuses on drivers before they get behind the wheel, helping to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes; and
- Slow Down campaign which encourages drivers to reduce their speed, because it's difficult to know what is up ahead.