Little-known smartwatches road rule could cost you big

Australians may be aware that touching their phone while driving can result in hundreds of dollars in fines and a hefty number of demerit points, but similar rules apply related to smartwatches.

While there’s no blanket ruling applied across Australia for smartwatch use behind the wheel, the similarities to phone use mean using one causes a driver to be “distracted” or become “inattentive”.

Here are the penalties drivers face if they’re caught using smartwatches while driving in each state.

NEW SOUTH WALES

While there aren’t any specific rules for using a smartwatch on NSW roads, there are some circumstances where using one could land you in trouble.

Smartwatches are not allowed to be used for texting, video calls, emailing, social media, or anything similar when worn by the driver.

Drivers caught using these functions face the same penalty as with a phone – five demerit points and a hefty $362 fine, increasing to $481 in a school zone.

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Many states will see drivers hit with the same fines as for when they are caught using their phone. Brendan Beckett Credit: News Corp Australia

VICTORIA

In Victoria, “some” functions of a smartwatch aren’t to be used while driving ”because they are covered by the road rules that limit using mobile phones”.

“When a smartwatch is worn by a driver, it should not be used while driving for making or receiving phone calls, navigation, music, text or video messaging, email or social media (e.g. Facebook and Twitter),” VicRoads advises motorists.

If a fully licenced driver removes their watch, they would be able to use it as a navigation device, as a music player or to make and receive hands-free calls.

Motorists caught using their smartwatch illegally will be fined $484 on the spot and incur four demerit points.

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Western Australia allows smartwatches to be used for navigation if they are mounted. Credit: News Corp Australia, David Clark

QUEENSLAND

Similar to NSW, Queensland does not have any smartwatch-specific laws for motorists, but distracted driving will see them penalised.

“Smartwatches are a major distraction for drivers and police can still charge a driver with driving without due care and attention,” a Department of Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said in a statement.

Drivers can be fined $1078 and have four demerit points put on their licence for using a phone illegally.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

In Western Australia, there is an exception for drivers using their smartwatch for navigation, but there is a catch.

Motorists will have to remove their watch and mount it to use it legally.

If the watch is kept on the wrist, drivers face a $300 fine and three demerit points.

Not only that, if caught using phone functions such as calling or texting while in a moving vehicle, the fine jumps to $1000 and attracts four demerit points.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

South Australian road rules concern visual display units (VDU), which SA Police describe as “miniature electronic devices that can be worn on the body and can include smartwatches and glasses which can be connected wirelessly to mobile phones or other similar devices.”

It is an offence in South Australia to have a VDU while the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked, if any part of the image on the screen is visible to the driver.

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