A driver in New South Wales (NSW) has been issued a fine for a common driving act, triggering a contentious debate online about whether it should be considered an offense.
While approaching a motorway exit, the motorist reached out to check his navigation system. Despite having his phone securely placed in a hands-free cradle, he was captured in an incriminating position by a mobile phone detection camera.
Accompanied by a $362 fine and a loss of five demerit points, a photograph appears to depict the driver, who opted to remain anonymous, with his hand near the cradle.
The driver’s wife shared the image in question on a Facebook group to seek public opinion, expressing doubts about the responses received from authorities declining their request for a fine review.
“We asked for a review, but they said you can’t touch the phone for any reason while driving,” she posted. “They stated that if we need to touch the phone, we must pull over and handle it on the side of the road.
“I have sent emails and made phone calls. The response was the same.” However, this advice seems to contradict the information on the Transport for NSW website.
The Transport for NSW Centre for Road Safety states that unrestricted drivers are permitted to touch their phones if they are securely placed in a cradle for making or receiving phone calls, using audio functions, or utilizing it as a driver’s aid, such as navigation.
This is also explicitly mentioned in the NSW Road Rules, outlined in Regulation 300 for fully licensed drivers and Regulation 300-1 for restricted drivers.
Opinions on the internet were divided, with some motorists stating their awareness of the exception to the rule under regulation 300. “Why is this poor guy being penalized for checking his exit? It’s no different from scrolling through the navigation on the head unit,” one person wrote.
“What about Uber and taxi drivers?” another questioned. “Are you challenging the law because you have a valid legal argument, or do you simply dislike it?” someone else commented.
For some participants in the discussion, logic was influenced more by personal experience than legislation. “I eat a chicken roll, drive a manual, and drink a cappuccino without any issues. Touching a phone in a cradle should be okay,” one person expressed.
Others speculated that the fine was issued because the driver’s hand was resting on the cradle rather than directly on the phone itself.
“It’s because his hand is around it. If he was simply tapping it with his finger, he probably wouldn’t have received the fine,” another person opined.
However, there were dissenting voices: “You can see his thumb and all fingers behind it. Adjusting the cradle is not illegal,” one individual argued.
Beyond online forums, the next recourse for the driver is to go to court. if a motorist believes they have been incorrectly fined, they can request Revenue NSW to review the fine. If Revenue NSW upholds the fine, the person may choose to attend court.”
Online users cautioned that this could incur significant costs and advised the motorist to retain receipts. “It may be costly, but sometimes you have to go to court. I’ve experienced something similar, and it seems like I have to escalate it,” one person advised.
“The legislation is clear. Take it to court, and it will probably be dropped beforehand. If it proceeds to court, make a claim for your expenses, such as taking a day off work and traveling to court. Keep receipts and payslips,” another individual suggested.