Victoria Police sparked a social media maelstrom last week when it asked its followers if using their phone to make a tap and go payment at a drive thru window was illegal.
Most respondents answered incorrectly, with the police force revealing that this simple action was in fact illegal, and carried with it a hefty $484 fine.
Nearly a week later, the debate continues around whether other seemingly innocuous driving and drive-thru habits are illegal.
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For example, wearing a Smartwatch while driving is also considered illegal if drivers are using it inappropriately.
Smartwatches can be used to pay for items, receive messages, play music and make calls among several other capabilities.
This means they can be extremely distracting, Victoria Roads has said, and wearing one while driving could result in a fine if the driver is using it inappropriately.
“When a smartwatch is worn by a driver it should not be used while driving for making or receiving phone calls, navigation, music, text or video messaging, email or social media (e.g. Facebook and Twitter),” Victoria Roads states.
“Text or video messaging, email, social media use or similar communications should not be undertaken regardless of whether the Smartwatch is worn by the driver or not.”
The National Transport Commission and the RACV motoring club and insurance firm have both want to make it illegal to touch phones or Smartwatches while driving, with the Commission finding that the rules are inconsistent and largely don’t address the use of smartwatches.
What will I be hit with?
If you’re using a smartwatch inappropriately, you can lose up to five demerit points in NSW.
And in Victoria, you can lose four demerit points and receive a $484 fine for interacting with any units with visual displays that aren’t visual displays.
“It’s a proven fact that using a mobile phone while driving can be distracting. Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds or more doubles your crash risk. Research shows that the behaviour of a manual or visual distraction whilst driving causes crashes and near misses,” Victoria Roads has said.
However, smartwatches aren’t the only tricky area of road rules highlighted by Victoria Police’s drive thru post.
Riddle me this: How can I collect my food if I can’t have any part of my body outside the vehicle?
The only time it’s legal for drivers to travel with a part of their body outside of a vehicle is if they’re signalling a turn, and the same goes for passengers.
This means that, as with the tap and go rule, drivers need to fully turn off the vehicle before they lean out the window to grab their food.
Riddle me this: My phone and wallet are in the same case. If I pick up my wallet/phone to pay by card, can I be pinged?
This question was posed by a number of people on Victoria Police’s thread.
“This law implies I can be charged for picking up my phone to grab my bank card. It’s also where I keep my license. So if I was randomly pulled over and kept the engine running as I grabbed my license from my phone case I could then be charged?” one driver asked.
“I have a phone wallet. So am I reaching for my phone to pay or my wallet?” another questioned.
As NSW law states, while you’re driving, you can only use your phone if its attached to a cradle or is voice activated, and if you’re using it to play music or navigate.
Holding your phone in your lap, in between your shoulder and ear or in your hand is considered illegal. The rules stand for all times the vehicle is on, including when you’re at traffic lights or waiting in traffic.
It’s a similar case for Victorian drivers, where all actions outside of playing music, making phone calls and navigating are prohibited, and phones must be in cradles or voice activated.
So, your best bet is to always turn off your car completely before reaching for your phone wallet.
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