NSW Roads and Maritime Services recently announced a number of changes to the NSW Road Rules due to commence on 1 November 2012. The most significant amendment involves the rules regarding mobile phone use while driving.
Mobile Phones and GPS
Under the new NSW road rules, drivers cannot hold, touch, use or manipulate their mobile phone while they are driving or stationary in their vehicle. If you do want to use your phone in the car, you must have your phone (or visual display unit such as a GPS) secured, mounted and in a fixed position which does not obscure your driving view. The penalty for infringement of these new NSW road rules is 3 demerit points and a $398 fine (4 demerit points and $298 fine in a school zone). These changes do not apply to Learner and Provisional drivers who are never allowed to use a mobile phone on the road. Police and emergency drivers may continue to use mobile data terminals in the course of their work.
New Pedestrian Offences
The new NSW road rule amendments also introduce a raft of new pedestrian and driver offences, such as:
Crossing at a red pedestrian light (penalty: $66 fine)
Failing to cross without delay once a red pedestrian light appears if you are already upon the crossing (penalty: $66 fine)
Failure to cross without delay once a pedestrian has already started crossing and warning lights have commenced flashing (or warning bells ring) (penalty: $66 fine)
Driver failure to give way to a pedestrian who is crossing at an intersection which the driver is entering (penalty: 3 demerit points and $298 fine (4 demerit points and $397 fine in school zone)
Carrying an animal on a motor bike between rider and handlebars in a position which interferes with the control of the bike (penalty: 3 demerit points and $397 fine or 4 demerit points and $496 fine in school zone)
Failure to treat broken traffic lights like a roundabout, ie, failure to give way properly (penalty: 3 demerit points and $298 fine)
Failure to give “sufficient warning” about intention to turn left or right before entering the roundabout (penalty: 2 demerit points and $165 fine) (NB: drivers must also indicate a left turn just before exiting the roundabout unless it is not practical to do so)
Failure to keep 60 metres distance from a long vehicle that is not driving in a built up area, a multi-lane road or overtaking (penalty: $397 or $1191 fine and 3 or 4 demerit points (NB: a driver of a road train must keep at least 200m distance).
Other areas of NSW traffic laws which have been amended include changes to the u-turn and overtaking laws and additional offences created to control and manage the way drivers enter intersections when pedestrians and cyclists are crossing as well as pedestrian conduct while crossing roads.