NSW’s GPS Phone Ban For P-Platers Starts Today

NSW’s GPS Phone Ban For P-Platers Starts Today

It is now officially against the law for provisional licence holders in NSW to use their phones in any way while driving. If you get caught using a voice-activated GPS app while behind the wheel – even if your phone is secured to a hands-free cradle – you will be suspended from driving for three months. Here are the details.

New drivers are statistically eight times more likely to have a car accident than full licence holders. The state government is hoping to reduce this number via a blanket ban on phone use for all P platers. Here’s the change as explained on the Transport NSW website:

From 1 December 2016, P2 licence holders will no longer be permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving or riding. P2 licence holders will have the same restrictions as learner and P1 licence holders.

…These laws encourage learner and P1 drivers and riders to concentrate on developing their vehicle control and hazard-perception skills. Mobile phone use can distract novice drivers and riders from the driving task.

In addition to the above, from 22 January 2016, learner and P1 drivers caught using a mobile phone will receive four demerit points – which exceeds their demerit point threshold. In other words, they will face a three-month licence suspension on the very first offence.

As we’ve said in the past, banning P platers from using GPS phones makes sense in theory – a phone is a dangerous diversion even when placed in a hands-free cradle.

On the other hand, GPS phones allow inexperienced drivers to devote their full attention to their vehicle and the traffic around them. Take it away, and they will need to focus more attention on road signs, street names and turnoffs – which can make them nervous and unpredictable drivers.

On the plus side, P platers can continue to use dedicated GPS units which are not banned under the new rules. We’re sure Navman, TomTom and the like are quite pleased. Skint P platers, on the other hand, may need to revise their Christmas list.


  • On one hand, I get why these laws have come in, but on the other, whats the difference between a dedicated GPS device, and a phone acting as a hands free GPS device?

    • Talking to cop friends, the issue with a phones-acting-as-gps is that in most situations there can be pop-up notifications (sms, facebook, whatsapp, etc) that the driver may be tempted to read.

      • As I said, I get that part of it, but the whole GPS use doesnt make sense to me. You’re telling an inexperienced driver to stop using a device they are familiar with, and to start using one they have never used before. One they will replace in 12 months with that first device they use constantly. Great idea.

        When will they be banned from using GPS devices?

        I have notifications pop up on my smartwatch. Should they be banned as well? My wrist buzzes, I glance to see what it is, and my eyes are off the road.

    • Yeah, I remember when I was a young fella on my P’s, leaning over to try and read the street directory on the passenger seat while I drove around Sydney…so much safer.

  • What about stuff like an on-board nav and bluetooth system where the pick up button is on the steering wheel and the nav system is part of the car? The phone is in my pocket not being looked at?

    • AFAIK, that is OK, although if it was my kid, I wouldn’t allow it. But then, my kids wouldn’t be allowed to own a smartphone in the first place.

      • If you kid is responsible to drive a vehicle alone on public roads they should be responsible enough to own a phone. I’d say its the perfect point as they are going to be away from you a lot more and they can call you if they ever need to.

  • Possibly temptation.
    On a dedicated GPS you aren’t going to hear a chime, or see a popup that there is someone contacting you. You will remain focused on the road and the directions being given, instead of getting that small temptation that could quickly turn into a “It won’t matter if I look at that message because I am already looking at my phone as a GPS”

  • While I get these rules, I think they are a little over the top.

    What the rules should state is the phone must be in a Driving Mode. This would allow the use of a phone as a GPS unit. And bike riders, I would prefer to have a voice in my head telling me where to go over looking down at a GPS unit (which is dangerous). With a voice telling me where to go, I can keep my head up. Bike goes where you look. Also what about adults who have been driving for years (myself for 17 years) and then decide to obtain their Motorcycle Lic. Granted they skip their Green P’s (provided they are over 25), but to take them right back to the same level as someone who is new to both riding and driving is a joke. What you will find is the increased 8 deaths of P’s platers (this year over last year) were using their phone, and not in a cradle. Now everyone must pay the price.

    • Obviously some people will have to endure hardship for the good of the rest of society. It is inevitable and some of us have been doing it our entire lives. You just suck it up and get on with your life. Compared to the ridiulous and entirely arbitrary speeding rules, it is of zero consequence.

    • Airplane mode switches off all cellular and wifi signals, so GPS shouldnt work in airplane mode, but if there was a road mode that allowed GPS data, it would solve these problems. As there isnt, its a moot point, but thats just an OS update.

      As I said above, my gripe is that they are pushing inexperienced drivers into using an unfamiliar device. One that is a step backwards, and just one more thing to distract them. It doesnt stop the stupid drivers from being stupid, if anything it increases the risk.

  • Let’s forget for a moment that GPS devices exist, phone or standalone. If the aim of this law is to stop P platers from being distracted, then should they also ban a co-passenger from giving them directions because that can be distracting and dangerous?

  • I suspect this is one of those laws that will have unexpected consequences.

    For example, perhaps small towns will spring-up in rural Australia populated solely by lost children (and some adults).

    Having teenagers must be so expensive these days. Not only do they have to have a phone but now they need a GPS as well. AND I bet they’ll live at home until well into their 30’s.

  • Yes, as others have said. It’s so much safer having your street directory on your lap or on the seat next to you. So much safer…. not.

  • Vehicle control requires 100 percent concentration , it should be illegal for EVERYONE ……. why the mad panic in today’s society to be in control of a dangerous weapon while using a telephone.
    It’s bad enough that lots of people cause disruption when walking and using a telephone!

    • I don’t see why my phone can’t sit in the cup holder with the screen off and give me directions in places I am unfamiliar with. The alternative is pulling over often to check a map which is much more dangerous with the pulling in and out of traffic along with trying to make out street signs and taking your eyes off the road more. Telling my I have to turn right in 200m is much better than suddenly seeing the street I need and braking harshly and making a quick turn.

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