GPS On Your Mobile Phone Illegal In Cars

Common sense suggests you shouldn't use any GPS in a car without it being mounted — but even if it is, the law could see you getting busted if that GPS is attached to a phone.

Nick over at Gizmodo has been looking into the whole issue of whether it's legal to use a GPS built into a smart phone. There's no question that you can't use a phone to make calls unless it has hands-free operation, but it turns out there's no equivalent provision for using a GPS, while there is a provision in the model road rules used as the basis for traffic laws in most states that explicitly bans the use of a phone-connected GPS. In NSW, that could mean a fine of $253 if you get caught (and the police recognise your device as a phone).

Obviously the sellers of phone GPS applications don't see this as a problem; Suna, for instance, is actively working on smartphone versions of its traffic information systems. But it looks like, yet again, the law isn't keeping up with technology.

Using iPhone Satnav Apps While Driving Is Actually Illegal [Gizmodo]


    Of course it's not illegal or wrong to use a smart phone as a GPS in a vehicle if the user is NOT the driver. An obvious point, but it's not made clear in the LH article, and if the quote wasn't included it wouldn't be clear in the Gizmode article either.

      Oops, the Gizmode article's header make it clear.

      I have broken the law on purpose. I installed my GPS in my car using Velcro. It works a treat and does not leave a mark on the window as it is mounted on the dash so that it can be swapped between cars. But the Victorian law states it must be professionally installed. The grossly incompetent Labor government has really gone over the top with this stupid law, created by stupid do-gooders. They can track me down and shoot me if they want.... they are just morons. I don't give a rats about the cops enforcing this petty and completely stupid law. The law is there for no other reason but for revenue raising by the state government mafia.

    Interesting discussion in the comments there, these rules are not legally binding, they are an attempt to get the states to agree on national road rules (something which since moving to WA I think is needed in this country).

    One of the most worrying parts of that document is that motorcyclists are banned from using GPS devices entirely, phone or not. Garmin I know sells dedicated motorbike GPS devices, and they are arguably more useful on a bike than in a car where you can use a paper map.

    Thankyou, Angus, for not succumbing to 'iPhone Headline Fever' for this article. You've aknowledged that other phones exist and also have GPS.

    Thankyou for living, and WRITING, in the real world. Something I can't say as often for your Gizmodo siblings, I'm afraid.

    noh, its not illegal as its available (",)

    I use my GPS phone with my motorbike but keep it in my pocket and listen to directions with the earpiece. No way im gonna stop using it, its incredibly useful and poses absolutely no danger.

    So we'd all prefer to have everyone sit driving with a street directory in their lap? There's a reason they don't enforce this.

    You shouldn't be doing anything while driving except driving. Phone gps or normal. If you need to key in an address to a gps you should be pulling over.

    This is not an example of the law not keeping up but an example of people faIling to use their own common sense. You shouldn't need a specific law telling you that it is ok or not. How is operating s gps any different from text messaging?

    BEN: the Police don't enforce this for the same reason they don't bother to pull over the many millions of cars driving at night with broken/blown headlights -- they are simply in the business of revenue raising, (at least in Victoria) so they target the easy victims with the highest per capita returns -- speeding/alcohol/drugs.

    TIM: operating a GPS is vastly different from text messaging -- the first requires you to listen and occasionally glance down at the large screen, and (as has been widely studied in the UK) aids your ability to drive safely in most conditions with advanced warning of directions and traffic conditions;
    whilst SMSing requires full use of one hand, your eyes' focus and continual mental attention, with no driver safety side-benefits (it's not hard to see the risks there);
    obviously using a GPS on a mobile falls somewhere between those two extremes, depending on the software and hardware you are using.

    what isn't clear with GPS use is: is it legal to 'program' your navigation device whilst driving?!?
    on some rare occasions I've needed to do this, and it's challenging in even the best traffic conditions. I think there ought to be a legal distinction made there, at least until the devices have a high standard of voice recognition built-in.


    For NSW see

    The NSW RTA said that they couldn't interpret the law for me, and that I'd need legal advice (isn't that great reponse, btw?).

    (2) This rule does not apply to the driver if:

    (b) the visual display unit is, or is part of, a driver’s aid, or

    Examples of driver’s aids.

    3 Navigational or intelligent highway and vehicle system equipment.

    To me that's pretty clear. But I reckon if you're driving with the phone next to your ear you're pretty busted - unless you can proove in a court of law that you have an eye in your ear.

    Typical geek interpretation of the literal meanings for media sensationalism. If its an approved dash mounted device, all functions on the unit are legal including gps as its no different as a "in dash" gps which are legal.

    I want 5 minutes of my life back for reading and thinking about this sensationalist non issue.

    Common sense prevails.

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