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Use of Mobile Phones While Driving – Legislation in Israel

 

In Israel, according to the Traffic Regulations of 1961 (hereafter "Traffic Regulations") and the Traffic Ordinance of 1961 (New Version) (hereafter "Traffic Ordinance):

  • While the vehicle is in motion, the driver may not hold a phone, whether fixed or mobile and may not use it inside the vehicle, except with a hands-free accessory/handset (defined in the law as an accessory that enables using the phone without holding it).
  • While the vehicle is in motion, it is forbidden to send or read text messages (sms). (Regulation 28(b)(1) of the Traffic Regulations).
  • Driving instructors are also forbidden to use fixed or mobile phones while instructing, except with the use of a hands-free accessory (paragraph 16 of the Traffic Regulations)
Data entry and reading while driving

 

The restriction on the use of mobile phone while driving is due first and foremost to the fear of accidents that may result from lowered concentration and distraction.

 

 

Introduction – distraction 

Agreement on the need to restrict the use of mobile phones while driving is due first and foremost to the fear of accidents that may result from lowered concentration and distraction

 

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Legal regulations regarding the use of mobile phones while driving

Studies have shown that the risk of traffic accidents is increased 4-6-fold through using mobile phones while driving.  In view of this risk, a number of legislative measures in Israel were updated in 2007.

Illustration: Using a phone while driving is forbidden

Use of mobile phones while driving

The Traffic Regulations (pdf document available for downloading- Hebrew) stipulate:

While the vehicle is in motion, the driver:

  • May not hold a phone, whether fixed or mobile and may not use it inside the vehicle, except with the use of a hands-free accessory (handset).
  • May not send or read text messages (sms).
Illustration: Using a phone while driving is forbidden

 

Regulation 28 (b) (1) of the Traffic Regulations – Infringement of this regulation is considered a criminal offense and is liable to a fine of 1000 NIS.

 

Details of the instructions deriving from the Regulation:

  • Holding a fixed or mobile phone while driving - the driver may not hold a phone, whether fixed or mobile, while driving.  This prohibition derives from the driver's obligation to hold the steering wheel with both hands while the vehicle is in motion (Regulation 28 (a)).
  • Use of a hands-free accessory – a "hands-free accessory" is defined by the law as an accessory that enables using the phone without holding it.  The accessory may be contained in the phone itself (speaker/microphone), in which case the law requires that it be placed in a secure place that will prevent its falling.

    According to the Israel Police's Website, it is permissible to use a mobile phone with a handset (hands-free accessory) while driving only if the phone is placed in a secure place that will prevent its falling.  According to the Ministry of Health's recommendations regarding the educated use of mobile phones, for a mobile phone installed permanently in the vehicle it is advisable to attach an antenna outside the vehicle, not inside it, and to give preference to a wired connection between the phone and the microphone, rather than using the Bluetooth system.

  • Sending or receiving text messages (sms) – Sending or reading text messages is forbidden while the vehicle is in motion.

 

Driving instructors

According to the law, a licensed driving instructor may not use fixed or mobile phones while instructing, except with the use of a hands-free accessory (paragraph 16 of the Traffic Regulations)

 

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Issues discussed in legal rulings

The subject of using mobile phones while driving has been raised in a number of rulings discussing the interpretation of the Regulations.  The following are some of the issues raised in rulings.

 

Is one allowed to use a mobile phone while driving if using earphones?

The Traffic Regulations stipulate that it is forbidden to drive or walk in the street with earphones affixed to the ears, when attached to a device for the purpose of listening to music or voices, except for earphones attached to a medical hearing aid (Regulation 169 of the Traffic Regulations – pdf document available for downloading - Hebrew).

In the Supreme Court the question was raised as to whether this regulation applied to the use of a single earphone in one ear, and whether such use was permissible while driving.  The ruling was that the use of a single earphone did not constitute an infringement of the regulation (Criminal appeal– 3237/99 Ahuva Levy vs the State).

 

Is one allowed to use a mobile phone when standing at a red traffic light?

According to Regulation 28 above, when the vehicle is 'in motion', the driver may not hold a phone, whether fixed or mobile or use it inside the vehicle, except with a hands-free accessory.  This ruling discussed cases where a driver used a phone in a vehicle, without using a handset, while the vehicle was standing at a red light.  The question was raised as to whether the vehicle can be considered 'in motion' under these circumstances, as stipulated in the Regulation, in which case use of the mobile phone is prohibited without using a handset. To decide whether use of the phone in these circumstances could be considered an infringement of the Regulation, the interpretation of the term 'in motion' was discussed.

 

Rulings were ambiguous on this issue:

  • Some rulings allowed the use of mobile phones under these circumstances, since answering a call when the vehicle is not in motion is not included in the legal prohibition (Ruling 70140/01 – Bergman vs the State – District Court)
  • In the ruling for Eliakim vs the State (70890/01 – Tel Aviv District), discussing an appeal against a conviction for using a phone while standing at a red light, it was ruled that such use of a mobile phone was prohibited, since the vehicle was in a continuous traffic route.
    It was ruled that the term 'in motion' applied to flowing traffic, a traffic route, parking or exiting from a parking area, turning, parking a vehicle, or stopping at traffic lights, from the beginning of a journey to its end,  The Hon Judge Pilpel ruled that stopping in a traffic jam or at a red light is only a brief interval in the general motion – an unplanned interval that does not allow the driver to immediately cease his occupation with the phone when the light changes or traffic begins to flow.  The appeal was rejected.

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References

 

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