Social media has experienced outrage as an article has gone viral of a driver receiving a penalty notice for a passenger’s mobile phone usage. Social commentators have stated that this behaviour is “revenue raising” and questioned the legality of issuing penalty notices for passengers utilising FaceTime.
KEY TAKE OUTS:
- Drivers can receive penalty notices for the distracting mobile phone usage of their passengers.
It’s true – NSW legislation allows penalty notices to be issued to drivers for the actions of their passengers. The current social media post going viral on the internet related to a driver being charged with “Drive Vehicle with TV/ VDU Image likely to distract”.
This offence is contained in New South Wales legislation, being the Road Rules 2014 in regulation 299, which attracts a maximum 20 penalty units ($2,200) for a driver that drives a vehicle with a visual display unit (in or on the vehicle) or television receiver in operation whilst the vehicle is either moving, or stationary but not parked. This will apply if the screen’s image is visible to the driver in their normal driving position or is likely to be considered distracting to another driver.
Interesting to note, this legislation specifically accounts for situations in which the rule should not apply to drivers. For example, bus drivers have specific exemptions under the Road Rules, as well as those with driver’s aids including dispatch systems, rear-view screens and ticket-issuing machines being allowed as visual displays if they are affixed in secured mounting whilst a vehicle is in use or integrated into the design of a vehicle.
The Road Rules further dictate what is to be determined as being affixed or mounted to a vehicle and therefore, drivers could be liable for further offences, if they do not maintain familiar with developments in the Road Rules. This article of legislation is one of many falling under the “miscellaneous road rules” in legislation.
Essentially, a penalty notice issued may be relating to the distraction caused to the driver, which could potentially cause further difficulties for other drivers on the road and pedestrians, rather than penalising a driver simply for their passenger’s use of mobile phones.
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