Ask LH: Can I Use A GPS When I'm On My P-Plates?

Hey Lifehacker, What are the laws in Queensland about using a GPS device while on your P1 licence? I know mobile phones are a definite no-go, but I can't find anything about GPS. Thanks, Provisionally Lost

Dear PL,

The road laws in Queensland don't seem to be particularly clear on GPS restrictions for provisional licence holders. As you correctly surmise, P1 drivers are prohibited from using hands-free kits, wireless handsets and loudspeaker functions. However, all these rules refer specifically to mobile phones.

There doesn't appear to be any clear-cut rules for GPS use on the Department of Transport and Main Roads website, nor for using mobile phones for navigation purposes when placed in a cradle.

We contacted Queensland's Department of Transport and Main Roads which didn't seem to have any idea one way or the other — we were eventually transferred to a specialist who offered the following advice:

GPS units are permitted in Queensland, but they need to be fitted in a cradle and you're not allowed to fiddle with them while driving. This includes when your car is stationary with the engine running. Instead, you need to pull over and park somewhere safe with the engine off before you're allowed to operate the GPS.   Mobile phones are different. Because GPS navigation requires you to activate the loudspeaker, you are technically breaking the rules on a P1 licence. But this really comes down to the police officer's discretion and will be treated on a case-by-case basis.

So there you have it. Bizarrely, it seems that using a dedicated GPS device in Queensland is legal, but doing the exact same thing with a hands-free mobile phone isn't. If any readers have run foul of Queensland police for committing this "offence", we'd love to hear about it. Share your stories in the comments section below!

See also: Australian Laws For Using Your Mobile Phone While Driving

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Bizarrely, it seems that using a dedicated GPS device in Queensland is legal, but doing the exact same thing with a hands-free mobile phone isn’t.
    Probably to avoid people using their phones as a phone and then claiming they were using the gps. Which is why it comes down to the officer's discretion.

      Most GPS units can take phone calls via Bluetooth though. What's the difference?

        I didn't know that. No difference really.
        But then, when do laws relating to technology ever make sense?

        Because P-platers can set a destination while driving. But they can't talk about 1 Direction and drive at the same time. At least, I think thats what they talk about. I really have no idea these days...

          But how do you program "go around and around this same block" into the GPS?

        Hahaha Queensland laws hahahaha making sense hahaha

    The comment about speakerphone and GPS on a phone makes no sense whatsoever. Engage navigation mode (while parked, engine off, etc.) and that's it. How could it be easier?

    No touching while driving, same as a dedicated GPS.

    I'm pretty sure I was reading Victoria are even banning GPS for L and P platers with the new law revisions. Govt must have shares in Gregories.

    I always found the hands-free mobile thing really stupid, shouldn't they ban people from having a conversation in a car? It's the same thing really.

      I believe one distinction is that having a conversation in the car also means another set of eyes in the car and therefore someone else looking out onto the road.

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