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New road rules set to bite Territory drivers

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au 1/07/2019 Zarisha Bradley

The Northern Territory Government has adopted four new road rule amendment packages that will see a wider passing distance between cyclists and motorists and double the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving.

The new changes, approved by Transport and Infrastructure Council, will come into effect August 1.

Under the new changes, motorists will need to leave a one metre passing distance from a cyclist and one and a half metres when travelling 60km/h or any faster.

a man wearing a hat and sunglasses: Motorists caught breaking the rules face tough new fines and punishments under the new changes coming into the Northern Territory. © 9News Motorists caught breaking the rules face tough new fines and punishments under the new changes coming into the Northern Territory.

The penalty for using a mobile phone while driving in the Territory will soon be doubled from $250 to $500.

This penalty will also apply for visual display unit (VDU) offences, when a device has a screen capable of displaying an image such as a GPS.

According to the NTG, drivers are allowed to touch a phone to make a call if it is in a secure mounting to the vehicle but talking on your phone via hands free is still a distraction.

Learner and provisional licence holders must not use any function of a mobile phone or other communication device while driving, including hands-free.

Learner drivers will also no longer be able to ride a moped.

a person riding on the back of a car: Speeding isn't the only offence NT police will have in their sights. © 9News Speeding isn't the only offence NT police will have in their sights.

Children under one year of age are allowed to be nursed on the lap of a passenger over 16 years of age while travelling in a commercial passenger vehicle if no child restraint is available.

Children over this age, must be in a seatbelt or child restraint if available.

And, motorcyclists will be allowed to lane-filter through traffic travelling less than 30km/h.

General Manager of Transport and Civil Services Louise McCormick said she hopes the changes will reduce the Territory's road toll which is sitting at 14 this year, compared to 28 at this time in 2017.

a car driving on a highway: New changes to Northern Territory road rules are set to come into effect next month. © 9News New changes to Northern Territory road rules are set to come into effect next month.

"The suite of changes aim to address the risks associated with dangerous behaviours on our roads and will provide better consistency across Australian jurisdictions," Ms McCormick said.

Automobile Association of the Northern Territory CEO Anthony Hill warned of the risks of using your mobile phone while driving.

"Ensure your phone or device is out of reach or is turned off, whatever it takes," he said.

"Drivers need to take responsibility to avoid getting distracted."

For more information about these road rule changes, visit www.towardszero.nt.gov.au. 

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