There are a number of common acts drivers partake in behind the wheel that could detract their attention from the road.
From eating and smoking to wearing headphones – here’s what you’re actually allowed to do while driving in Australia.
Can I wear headphones while driving?
Wearing headphones while driving is not explicitly illegal, but drivers can cop fines if they have a crash and it is determined they were a distraction.
“The practice is dangerous and could result in prosecution if deemed to be the cause of an accident,” the NRMA says on its website.
The association says wearing headphones emitting loud music while driving could be considered a distraction as drivers should always be alert to what is happening around them.
“By using headphones, the driver is likely to be less aware of the surrounding traffic conditions,” the NRMA says.
“If you wear headphones that dull or block out other sounds, you may not hear sirens or horns, which could get you and drivers into big trouble.”
The Department of Transport and Main Roads Queensland has a similar sentiment.
“If you’re listening to music through headphones while driving, make sure it doesn’t block the sound of emergency vehicle sirens or distract you from driving,” it wrote on Facebook.
Victoria Police said while the practice was not illegal, they strongly advised against it as it could affect your ability to fully focus on the task of driving.
When is it illegal?
If you’re wearing headphones that are plugged into a mobile phone, then mobile phone laws could apply.
If you are an L or P-plater, mobile phones cannot be used at all and therefore you could be fined.
Others will be fined if they have headphones plugged into a phone that is not sitting in an approved cradle.
In NSW, the penalty for illegally using a phone while driving is $344 and five demerit points.
The Northern Territory this year announced it will increase its fine from $250 to $500, while drivers will cop three demerit points for the offence.
In Western Australia, motorists will receive a fine of $400 and three demerit points.
Meanwhile those who are nabbed in Tasmania face a fine of $336 and three demerit points.
Drivers in Victoria cop four demerit points and a $496 fine, while those in Queensland will be fined $391 and three demerit points.
Can I eat and drink while driving?
Again, while there is not a specific rule in Australia stating it is illegal to eat or drink a non-alcoholic beverage, drivers can be fined if it proves to be a distraction.
The photo showed a woman holding the bowl in one hand and a spoon in the other before she was slapped with a $300 fine.
The NRMA says if eating interferes with a driver’s control of the car, then the driver could be breaking the law.
“These types of offences are assessed on a case by case basis, including whether an incident occurred,” it said.
Can I wear thongs, heels or drive barefoot?
“There is no legislation prohibiting drivers from wearing heels, thongs or driving barefoot,” a Victoria Police spokesperson said on Facebook.
Can I smoke a cigarette while driving?
Smoking while driving alone or with an adult isn’t illegal, but if there is a minor in the car you can cop a whopping fine.
In Queensland, people can be fined $252 for smoking in a car carrying a passenger under 16 years of age.
If a child under 18 is in a car while you’re smoking in Tasmania, a driver can be hit with an on-the-spot fine of $260.
Those in NSW could be whacked with a $250 fine for smoking with a passenger under the age of 16.
It’s also banned in Victoria to smoke with a child under 18 in the car, carrying a penalty of $233.
Drivers in WA will be hit with a $200 fine if a passenger is under 17 and those in South Australia will cop a $105 fine if carrying a child under the age of 16.
Throwing a cigarette butt out the window is also a costly exercise for those who choose to smoke while driving.
The act comes with a $661 fine in Victoria, $500 fine in South Australia and WA, $260 in Tasmania, $250 in Victoria and $660 in NSW.
Can you use your phone while waiting in a drive-thru?
Most drivers know using their phone behind the wheel is illegal and can thus incur a hefty fine – but many won’t be familiar with rules dictating how they can use digital devices while in a drive-thru.
NSW Police have revealed not only can a mobile phone not be held while in a drive-thru, it shouldn’t be touching any part of the driver’s body, including their lap and being held between their shoulder and ear.
“The offence is that you’re not supposed to be driving while using a mobile phone, if the vehicle is moving through a car park, including a drive-thru, drivers can be done,” a NSW police spokeswoman told Yahoo News Australia.
Despite being in a drive-thru, mobile phone laws still apply and drivers can be fined if caught.
Putting on make-up or grooming
There is no specific rule banning drivers from putting on a slick of lipstick, while stopped at the traffic lights or any other grooming activity.
But much like eating behind the wheel, if you are distracted and don’t have proper control of the vehicle while putting on your make-up or shaving, it’s very possible you’ll cop a fine.
In WA, if a driver does not have full control of the vehicle they can cop a $100.
Drivers will cop a $457 fine in NSW, a $522 fine in Queensland and a $253 fine in South Australia.
In Tasmania, the fine is $168 and a whopping $825 in Victoria.
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