Drivers across Australia are risking hundreds of dollars in fines by dangling face masks on rear-view mirrors.
As face masks become mandatory in shopping centres and other COVID-19 hot spots across Australia amid the coronavirus crisis, many drivers have quickly adopted the habit of hanging a face mask on their car’s rear-view mirror for added convenience.
The fine for not wearing a face mask in shopping centres, on public transport, and in places of worship is $200 in NSW, Queensland and Victoria. Police have the discretion to issue warnings.
However, to avoid a fine for being caught without a mask, many motorists are unwittingly risking another fine if police determine a dangling face mask is blocking the driver’s view of the road.
The fine in NSW is $349 and three demerit points for “driving without a clear view”.
In Queensland the fine is $311 and no demerit points under road rule Section 297 (2) which says: “A driver must not drive a motor vehicle unless the driver has a clear view of the road, and traffic, ahead, behind and to each side of the driver.”
In Victoria the fine is $248 and no demerit points for an offence described as “fail to have full control (and an) uninterrupted view”.
Other states have similar laws but we have not listed the penalties for every jurisdiction.
One police officer, who spoke to CarAdvice on condition of anonymity, said in most cases drivers would likely receive a caution "unless any motorists talk themselves into a ticket".
"We can issue warnings as quickly as we can issue tickets, it depends on the circumstances," said the veteran highway patrol officer.
While health authorities advise hanging a face mask from a rear-view mirror is not the most hygienic way to carry it, car safety expert Russell White, from the Australian Road Safety Foundation, said:
"There are enough blind spots in cars without creating another one. A face mask might seem small, but positioned close to the driver it can obscure the view of a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorcyclist – or a car across an intersection that might be about to turn in front of you."