DRIVING instructor Graham Kidson has welcomed changes to NSW road rules banning drivers holding a mobile phone in their hand while driving unless they’re passing it to a passenger.
The new rules are part of a number of changes being introduced across the state from November 1 to clarify existing road rules and make them easier to understand.
Drivers will no longer be able to make or receive phone calls or use their phones for music while driving or while stationary on the road unless the phone is secured in a fixed mounting.
The rules will also apply to GPS navigation systems or phones being used to give directions.
All other phone functions including texting, video messaging, online chatting, reading preview messages and emailing are also banned.
Drivers who break the rules will be penalised with three demerit points and a $298 fine, and in a school zone will be hit with a $397 fine and four demerit points.
The Orange Driving School instructor said mobile phones were one of the biggest distractions for young drivers.
“There’s certainly been a lot of people killed while texting,” Mr Kidson said.
“I’m dealing with a lot of young drivers and a lot of P-platers put their head down while they’re pulled up at the lights to send a text message.
“You also see a lot of tradesmen on the phone.”
Learner and P1 drivers are not allowed to use any function of their phone while driving.
Mr Kidson said driving instructors including parents were also banned from talking on their phones while supervising a learner.
“As a driver instructor you get fined for not only using your phone but you also get fined for not supervising properly,” he said.
Other changes from next month will see a tightening of the rules for indicating at roundabouts, pedestrians at rail crossings, giving way to pedestrians at intersections, carrying animals on motorbikes, U-turns, and overtaking heavy vehicles.
“Most of these rules are commonsense but now it’s in writing,” Mr Kidson said.
He said tougher penalties don’t always work to deter drivers from breaking the law instead driver education was the answer as some laws were difficult to police.
Mr Kidson said the road rules rarely undergo significant change but when they do all driving instructors are informed by the Australian Driver Training Association to keep them up to speed.
More information about the changes can be found at www.rms.nsw.gov.au.