It doesn’t matter if your mobile phone doesn’t have a SIM card in it, says the Queensland Government – you’re still not allowed to use it behind the wheel.

“Specifically, it is illegal to use a mobile phone even if the phone function is not capable of being used or if it is being used for a function other than as a phone,” Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said, as reported by 7News.

“For example, it is illegal to use a mobile phone which does not have a SIM card to play music or as a camera while driving.

“These behaviours are just as distracting and dangerous as using the phone functions.

“The recent amendments are intended to clarify mobile phone rules for drivers and ensure all use of a mobile phone while driving is illegal.”

An amendment to the Queensland Road Rules this month has closed a loophole that allowed drivers to escape the fine – $1078 and four demerit points – if your mobile phone’s telephone function wasn’t capable of being used, i.e. because the SIM card has been removed or it’s in flight mode.

The wording also specifically prohibits you from being able to use a mobile phone “for a function other than its telephone function”.

You’re not permitted to have your mobile phone in your hand or resting on your lap while your vehicle is either moving, or stationary but not parked.

Mr Bailey said the amendment doesn’t expand the range of devices which are captured by the rules.

Queensland has been rolling out moveable mobile phone detection cameras that can also determine whether vehicle occupants don’t have their seatbelts fastened.

The cameras use AI technology to scan images for mobile phones or missing or improperly worn seatbelts – yes, you can be fined if your seatbelt is buckled in but the belt is, for example, sitting under your arm.

If the AI technology detects an offence, the image is flagged and a member of a Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) team views the image to ensure an offence was committed.

If there’s any doubt, an infringement notice isn’t issued. But if a notice is issued and the driver feels they were incorrectly fined, they can view a high-res image through the TMR portal.

MORE: Victoria’s distracted driving rules tightened up

William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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