If a driver is found using their phone behind the wheel in New South Wales, it will set them back AU$344, or AU$457 in a school zone, as well as cost five demerit points. But one exemption has been allowed for fans of the Macca's Run or cheeky Nando's -- the ability to make payments via their phone.
Announced on Friday afternoon, Transport for NSW said drivers will be able to access their digital wallet stored on a mobile device so long as the vehicle is stationary, off road, in a car park, drive-through, or driveway.
"A number of stakeholders have expressed concerns about the road rules preventing drivers from using a mobile phone to make purchases in drive-throughs or at parking stations," executive director of Transport for NSW Centre for Road Safety Bernard Carlon said.
Carlon added that using a mobile phone while driving is otherwise a "dangerous distraction".
"However, if a driver is stopped safely and not in traffic like at a car park or drive through and remains in control of the vehicle while using their phone to make a payment, they will not be fined," he said.
The other exemption for NSW drivers is when a police officer asks them to show a digital driver's licence.
At the end of October, the state allowed citizens to create a digital driver's licence through the Service NSW app, despite the site lurching under high demand, 12% of drivers had created a digital licence a week later.
Speaking to ZDNet, Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the number now stands at 900,000 licences. Dominello also said initial demands were not anticipated, as numbers were forecasted based on the uptake of digital licences in South Australia during its trials.
"To be fair to us, when we officially announced it there were no issues. What happened was some people leaked the story ahead of time, and people jumped on because they were excited by it. Everything went according to our time line, which was the official date of the launch, everything was very sweet," he said.
"What happened … [was] there was a whole lot of demand that absolutely blew out our expectation and all we did was throttle the demand so we could cope.
"By day two that had been fixed because we fixed it overnight, but the system did not crash. We just throttled the demand so people could get through in an orderly way."
NSW is set to extend its range of digital licences.
"If you're a plumber … should you not just have your licence to undertake plumbing work but your areas of specialties? Why couldn't that be on your licence as well?" Dominello added.
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