Can you mount and charge your phone on the windscreen in a car to make calls and use navigation? How about using a smartwatch?

Legal Considerations for Mounting and Charging Mobile Phones

In every state and territory in Australia, holding a mobile phone while driving is illegal. However, using a phone mounted in a device holder is a bit more nuanced. The key point is that the phone can be mounted on the windscreen only if it doesn’t obstruct the driver’s vision. For example, placing the phone in a holder directly in front of you with the cord dangling could obstruct your view, similar to how a large pair of fluffy dice (or even an air freshener) might be a problem.

So while you may not think you’re using the phone illegally when it’s in a holder, it could still be obstructing your view, which is not allowed.

Regulations for Learners, P1, and P2 Drivers

Learners and provisional drivers (P1 and P2) are not allowed to use a mobile phone while driving, even if it’s in a legally mounted holder. This rule also applies to their passengers, who cannot use the loudspeaker function to make a call. The primary reason is that learners and provisional drivers need to focus entirely on driving without distractions.

Rules for Fully Licensed Drivers

According to VicRoads and other state and territory authorities, fully licensed drivers can use a phone to make or receive calls, use audio/music functions, or perform navigational (GPS) or intelligent highway vehicle system functions if the phone:

  • Is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle.
  • Can be operated without the driver touching any part of the phone, and the phone is not resting on any part of the driver’s body.

All other functions, such as video calls, texting, emailing, task management, photography, social media, shopping, and share economy apps, are prohibited.

The phone holder must meet a quality standard, meaning it should not fall apart and send the phone across the dash. Additionally, if charging, the cord must not be a distraction or dangle loosely.

Police Guidelines on Hands-Free Devices

The Victorian police website states: “It is illegal to use a hands-free phone while driving if it causes you to lose proper control of your vehicle.” The penalty for this is a significant fine and demerit points. Though a hands-free device reduces physical effort, it doesn’t necessarily make phone use safer. Drivers are advised to:

  • Ensure the hands-free function is set up before driving.
  • Keep conversations short.
  • Avoid complex or emotional conversations.
  • Inform the caller that you are driving and arrange a better time to speak.
  • End the call if it distracts you from driving.

Using Smartwatches While Driving

Smartwatches can be used only if they are not worn and used as a driver’s aid (e.g., as a navigation device), music player, or mobile phone to make or receive calls. The smartwatch must be in a holder, and any phone functions need to be hands-free via Bluetooth or similar means.

What can you do?

This guide is based on information obtained from Australian road authorities, and you should always check local rules and laws that may apply to you.

The use of a phone mount is not as straightforward as holding a mobile phone, which is completely outlawed. While mounting a phone on the windscreen is not explicitly banned, there are restrictions and rules to follow. Ensure the device and cord do not distract you and are not in a distracting location.

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About Author

Alex Rae

Alex Rae brings almost two decades’ experience, previously working at publications including Wheels, WhichCar, Drive/Fairfax, Carsales.com.au, AMC, Just Cars, and more.

5 comments

  1. I understand that a hands-free phone mounting (recharge and external antenna connected) on the far right bottom of a windscreen is acceptable, as long as the driver is tall enough to see over the top.

    On the few times I have been stopped for breath analysis purposes my phone installation has never been questioned.

  2. Well if you consider that a stone chip a fraction of the size of that mount makes your car unroadworthy, it makes sense that mounting a phone in the middle of the windscreen is not such a good idea.

    How many laws have been written on the premise “people are just a bit stupid”

  3. I was looking for this information relating to car advice, is it illegal to mount a phone or smartwatch on the windscreen. You have really eased my work, loved your writing skill as well. I like how you have researched and presented these exact points so clearly. Please keep sharing more!

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