Q1. Ms. M understands that it is illegal to hold and talk on a mobile phone while driving. But she is unsure about using the speaker-phone function? And what about using a hand-free device? Does the law prohibit the use of such function or device?
The gist of this offence is the “holding” of the mobile phone or its accessory. Therefore, if Ms. M uses her hand to hold and use her mobile phone (even while using the speaker phone function) or hold and use its accessory (which includes a hand-free device) while driving, she has committed the offence. But even if she does not “hold” the phone or the hand-free device and talks while driving, there must be a moment—no matter how short that moment is—that Ms. M will have to touch the phone or the hand-free device to activate it. For example, she may have to pick up the phone (thus holding it) to key in numbers for an outgoing call or to press the “Answer” key to receive incoming calls. Hence, at that moment, Ms. M might be contravening Regulation 42(1)(g). Well, in the case of answering a call by pressing the “Answer” key on a phone without actually picking it up and then using the hand-free device to communicate, this is unlikely to constitute “holding”. Such strict interpretation of this Regulation is probably not what the lawmakers intend. Instead, this Regulation was enacted to allow drivers to use a hand-free device. Ms. M should not worry too much about this. However, picking up a mobile phone and keying in numbers to make an outgoing call certainly amounts to “holding”, even though the keying process may take only a very short while.