Mobile phone laws for dummies

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

In an effort to inform you, the motoring public of New Zealand, we’ve cut through the bureaucratic jargon to offer this simplified guide to what you can and can no longer do with your cell phone while behind the wheel.

It might pay to take note, if you’re still a closet user, you’re risking not just an $80 dollar fine and 20 demerit points, research has shown driving and using a mobile phone dulls reaction times by up to 50%.

The rule relates to operators of all vehicles that share the road. This includes motorcycle, moped and scooter riders, and cyclists – even those in a mobility scooter. It encompasses any electronic device that provides a form of mobile telecommunications and/or email. That means PDAs and Blackberry devices.

What it doesn’t include are CB radios or any other kind of two-way radio. Satellite navigation and music systems will also be allowed to be operated, but only if solidly mounted to the vehicle and used only briefly and infrequently. They should only be programmed while stationary.

Drivers stuck in traffic due to the road ahead being blocked because of unforeseen circumstances like an accident, may use their phone to make, send and receive calls. This doesn’t apply however for the times you’re stationary in the normal flow of traffic, traffic lights or road works.

*555 calls will also be allowed, but only where it is unsafe or impractical to pull over. The exemption does not include driver hotline numbers on the back of heavy vehicles.

It’s never suitable to pull over for a chat on the motorway, or for that matter any other ‘no parking’ areas, unless it is for emergency or breakdown assistance.

Earpiece or microphone hands-free devices that connect either physically or wirelessly to your phone are your safest option if you simply must take calls on the road. It’s prudent to point out even the best of these systems still offer more of a distraction than if you were not to use the phone at all, but providing they allow conversations without the driver needing to hold or manipulate the phone, and are instead in a securely mounted cradle device (no, not a cup holder) you are legally allowed to call a number, receive or end a call.

Read more info here.