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


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