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MOBILE PHONE USE- Know the rules

Research shows that being distracted when driving, such as by a mobile phone, increases the risk of a crash. Simply taking your eyes off the road for longer than two seconds, doubles the risk of a crash. A short lapse of concentration can have lifelong consequences.

Learner, provisional P1 and provisional P2 drivers must not use any function of a mobile phone while driving

Some common questions regarding mobile phone use include: 

1. Can use my phone to make a call, use GPS or listen to music? No. Restricted licence holders are not permitted to use their phone at all while driving or riding. This applies regardless of whether the phone in use is being handled, resting on any part of the body, secured in a cradle or is being used hands-free (i.e. via Bluetooth). None of these uses are permitted.

2. Can I use my phone to make a call, use GPS or listen to music if it’s in a cradle? No. Restricted licence holders are not permitted to use their phone at all while driving or riding. This applies regardless of whether the phone in use is being handled, resting on any part of the body, secured in a cradle or is being used hands-free (i.e. via Bluetooth). None of these uses are permitted.

3. Can I use my mobile phone if it is on loudspeaker and in my lap? No. Restricted licence holders are not permitted to use their phone at all while driving or riding. This applies regardless of whether the phone in use is being handled, resting on any part of the body, secured in a cradle or is being used hands-free (i.e. via Bluetooth). None of these uses are permitted.

4. Can I use my phone to text? No. Restricted licence holders are not permitted to use their phone at all while driving or riding, including any texting functions.

5. What do I need to do to use my phone? If you would like to use your phone for any function – including calling, texting, emailing, playing audio or using social media - your vehicle must be parked out of the line of traffic.

Driver Licence - Think of your licence as a 'contract', or an agreement between you as a driver and the rest of society.

Rules for P1 drivers

In addition to complying with the NSW Road Rules, you must:

  • Only drive cars. You cannot apply to upgrade your licence to a higher class
  • Display P plates (red P on a white background) clearly on the front and back of the vehicle, on the outside. The letter P on the plate must not be hidden. If you’re towing a trailer, a P plate must be on the back of the trailer

Observe the posted speed limit and never drive over the maximum speed limit of 90 km/h

  • Only tow trailers up to 250 kilograms of unloaded weight. You must display a P plate (red P on a white background) on the back of the trailer while towing
  • Not have any alcohol in your system when you drive a vehicle. It’s also illegal to drive under the influence of drugs
  • Not supervise a learner driver
  • Ensure all occupants, including yourself, are in a seat with a seatbelt or an approved restraint fitted, with each passenger using the seatbelt or restraint
  • Not use any mobile phones, including hand free devices or loudspeaker, while driving or while your vehicle is stopped but not parked
  • Only drive automatic transmission vehicles, or clutchless manual vehicles, if you took your driving test in this type of vehicle. Your licence card will show the A034 condition on the front.

Failure to follow these rules is an offence and carries heavy penalties, including loss of licence.

Demerit Points: apply to P1 drivers.

  • Your P1 licence will be suspended or refused if you reach or exceed 4 demerit points.
  • If you commit any speeding offence your P1 licence will be suspended for at least 3 months.
  • An additional suspension or refusal period will apply for any excessive speed offence (more than 30km/h over the speed limit).

The Top 10 guide provides simple answers to many road rule questions, including how to indicate at a roundabout, when to use high-beam and fog lights, and when it is permitted to make a U-turn at traffic lights. For example:

  • Approaching a roundabout
  • Entering a roundabout
  • Turning left /right
  • Going straight ahead
  • Making a U-turn
  • Changing lanes in a roundabout and Exiting a roundabout

The guide is available at Service NSW. Copy this link into your browser. 

Alcohol and drugs

The laws in NSW limit the amount of alcohol you can consume if you are driving a vehicle. It is illegal to drive, attempt to drive or instruct a learner while affected by drugs and or Alcohol.

Know your limit

NSW has three blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits: zero, under 0.02 and under 0.05. The limit that applies to you depends on the category of your licence and the type of vehicle you are driving.

Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must be under the limit as shown in the table. BAC measures the amount of alcohol you have in your system in grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. A BAC of 0.05 means you have 0.05 grams (50 milligrams) of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood.

Heavy penalties apply for driving with a BAC on or over the limit. Note: Some foods and medications may contain alcohol which can register in a breath test, for example chocolates, cough lollies and mouthwashes. Always read the ingredients first.

BAC limits: As a learner and provisional driver, you must not drive after you have consumed any alcoholic drinks or foods containing alcohol.

Zero BAC applies to all:

  • Learner drivers or riders
  • Provisional 1 drivers or riders
  • Provisional 2 drivers or riders
  • Visiting drivers or riders holding an overseas or interstate learner, provisional or equivalent licence

Learner, P1 and P2 drivers and riders are developing their driving skills. They have a zero alcohol limit because they are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol than experienced drivers. If you are on a zero alcohol limit, you must be alcohol-free while driving or riding. This doesn’t stop you from having fun, it just means you can’t drive or ride after drinking any alcohol.

Don’t risk trying to calculate your BAC

Trying to calculate your BAC is impossible. Your BAC begins to rise as soon as you start drinking and can continue to increase for up to two hours after you have stopped drinking. Counting standard drinks to guess your BAC is difficult and often inaccurate because:

  • Alcohol concentrations vary between drinks, such as light beer (2.5%), full strength beer (5%), wine (14%) and spirits (40% or higher)
  • Beer may be served in schooners, middies and schmiddies. Wine glasses vary in size from 100ml to 280ml or more
  • Drinks are often ‘topped up’ so it's impossible to know how many standard drinks you’ve had
  • Drinks come in non-standard sizes – many pre-mixed drinks sold in bottles or cans may contain more than one standard drink and 800ml bottles may contain three standard drinks

People are different - Alcohol also affects people differently. Two people who drink the same amount can have different BACs. This is caused by factors such as:

  • Size and weight – a smaller person will have a higher BAC from the same amount of alcohol
  • Gender – a woman the same height and weight as a man, drinking the same amount, will have a higher BAC
  • Liver function – an unhealthy liver will process alcohol slower than a healthy liver
  • Recent consumption of food – lack of food in your stomach means you will absorb alcohol into your blood faster. However, eating food after you have been drinking will not reduce your BAC
  • Fitness, fatigue and general health condition – your BAC can be higher if you are not feeling well, you are tired, stressed or unfit

We recommend that you don’t drink any alcohol if you plan to drive. 

Here are some examples:

Ben is 19 and holds a P2 licence with a zero alcohol limit. He started drinking at 6pm and had 10 schooners of full strength beer (15 standard drinks) over 6 hours. At midnight his blood alcohol concentration was 0.17. He got a cab home.

It took more than 11 hours before Ben’s BAC was back to zero. The next day Ben was not able to drive his friends to the beach for an early morning surf. He had to wait until almost noon before he could drive.

Melita is 18 and holds a P1 licence with a zero alcohol limit. She started drinking at 10pm and had 6 mixer (9 standard) drinks over 4 hours. At 2am her blood alcohol concentration was 0.24. She stayed the night at a friend’s house.

It took more than 16 hours before Melita’s BAC was back to zero. Melita had to get her mum to drive her to work that morning. She had to wait until 6pm that night before she could drive.

Drug testing

Police will arrest you if they suspect you are driving while impaired by drugs. You will be taken to a hospital to give samples of blood and urine for drug testing. In the event of a crash where someone is admitted to hospital, blood samples are taken which may be tested for drugs.

Do not drive while taking medicines with a warning label that tells you not to drive.  

Beating the odds

As a younger and novice driver you face many challenges when learning the complex task of driving a vehicle. With relative inexperience, you also face a higher risk of being involved in a crash. Despite making up only about 15 per cent of all licence holders, the crashes that involve younger drivers (aged under 26 years) account for almost a quarter of annual road fatalities.

The safer driver course ( http:// ) helps learner drivers identify risks on the roads. Speed management, hazard awareness and safe following distances are some of the strategies in the course’s theoretical and practical sessions, which earn learner drivers 20 hours of log-book credit.

Watch this video to see how Greater Western Sydney Giants Academy players join the Safer Drivers Course to help them graduate to their P-plates

Licence conditions explains the NSW Graduated Licensing Scheme process, as well as some of the restrictions that apply to learner and P-plate drivers.

Graduated licensing schemes are one of the most effective ways to reduce youth road trauma. These evidence based schemes help reduce the number of young drivers in crashes. They provide a staged approach to driver licensing and reduce the impact of risk taking behaviour associated with younger drivers.

More information can be found in The Australian Graduated Licensing Scheme policy framework, commissioned by Transport for NSW, on behalf of the Austroads Road Safety Task Force.

Restricted P1

Distance defeated - Restricted P1 Provisional licence for selected areas west of the Newell Highway.

Under 25-year-old learner drivers living in Brewarrina, Walgett, Bourke, Broken Hill, Balranald and Hay can now apply for a restricted P1 Provisional licence so they can drive to work, education and medical related appointments.

Learners in these areas will be able to apply for the restricted P1 Provisional licence after they have completed 50 hours of on-road supervised driving (including at least 10 hours of night driving), with these hours recorded in their log books.

After you have completed six months on the restricted P1 Provisional licence, the restricted conditions will automatically expire and standard P1 licence conditions will apply for the rest of the P1 period.

The restricted P1 licence will be piloted for two years and allows young people living in remote areas wider access to health, education and work opportunities.

What does the restricted P1 licence offer?

  • You only need to complete 50 hours (instead of the normal 120 hours) of on-road driving experience.
  • After you have completed six months on the restricted P-plate licence, you will automatically go on to a regular red P-plate licence. You will only need to be on this for a minimum of six months before you can apply for your green P-plate licence.
  • You can carry passengers if you are driving for health, education and work purposes, but note that regular red P-plate night-time passenger restrictions apply.

Safer limits build confidence

Special licence conditions apply for young drivers within NSW. These include speed restrictions, passenger numbers, vehicle types and laws against using mobile phones. The conditions and restrictions that apply to learner or provisional licence holders do not change when they travel outside NSW. You night also have other licence conditions, such as wearing spectacles or contact lenses when driving.

Watch your speed

  • Learner and provisional P1 drivers must not drive faster than 90 km/h
  • Provisional P2 drivers must not drive faster than 100 km/h
  • Learner or provisional drivers who speed by more than 30km/h over the limit face immediate suspension and licence confiscation by police
  • Learner and P1 drivers penalised for speeding (four demerit points) will lose their licence for at least three months
  • P2 drivers will lose their licence for at least three months if they are penalised twice for speeding
  • Vehicle restriction laws

P1 and P2 drivers are banned from driving high-performance vehicles that have:

  • Power to tare mass ratios of greater than 130kW per tonne or,
  • Modified engines that need to be approved by an engineer or,
  • Other high performance classifications

The Roads and Maritime Services website has more information on prohibited vehicles.

Passenger limits for P1 and P2 drivers

P1 drivers under 25 are not permitted to drive with more than one passenger under 21 between the hours of 11pm and 5am. P1 or P2 drivers who are issued with a new licence after a period of being disqualified from driving, will for 12 months only be allowed to carry one passenger.

The Roads and Maritime Services website has more information on passenger conditions.

P1 licence holders who passed their driving test in an automatic vehicle (including vehicles with an automatic clutch actuator) will be restricted to driving automatics. This condition remains until you are issued with a provisional P2 or unrestricted licence. To remove the condition earlier, you must pass a driving test in a manual vehicle.

Displaying L and P plates

All learner and provisional drivers must clearly display their L and P plates on the front and back of the outside of the vehicle – the letters must not be hidden. Learner drivers can have their licence suspended if they drive unsupervised.

© Transport for New South Wales Last Updated:May 2021

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