New motor safety laws regarding the use of mobile phones and devices with visual displays come into effect in NSW today, as well as strict penalties for drivers who do not observe these changes.
From 1 November, drivers will not be able to use their phones in any way while the car is moving or stationary, unless the phone is 'secured in a fixed mount', the car is actually parked or where the use of the phone does not require the driver to touch the phone at all. The new rules explicitly stipulate that this use includes all phone functions, not just calling. Texting, music playback and navigation tools can only be used on a mounted device.
The same applies to any "visual device", too, including stand-alone GPS units, portable media players and tablets.
The penalties associated with these offences are pretty serious. A driver who is found using a device while driving will be fined AU$298 and have three demerit points deducted from their license. If the offence occurs in a school zone, the fine is increased to AU$397 and a fourth demerit is taken off the driver's tally.
Full changes to the NSW road rules can be found here.
While we are on the subject, it is also an offence to ride with an animal on a motorcycle. So, you know, don't do that.