McDonald’s drive-thru sign raises questions about controversial road rule. Picture: David Ramsay/Perth Have a Whinge
McDonald’s drive-thru sign raises questions about controversial road rule. Picture: David Ramsay/Perth Have a Whinge

Questions over Macca’s drive-through sign

It was one of our most controversial articles in a long time.

A seemingly innocuous sign at a McDonald's drive-through has sparked confusion after appearing to contradict a road rule that recently caused a lot of controversy.

The sign in question was displayed on one of the fast-food outlet's drive-through areas and details all the different ways customers can pay.

Among those options was the use of Apple Pay and other apps that allow you to pay through your phone.

"McDonald's promoting apple and Android pay in drive through. Vic police said this is illegal," a Facebook user wrote on the Perth Have a Whinge page.

The post is referring to a Facebook poll made by Victoria Police in August that asked users: "When using a fast-food outlet's drive-through service, can I use my phone to pay?"

More than 55,000 people voted in the poll, with 65 per cent thinking it was perfectly fine.

However, the majority of voters were shocked to find out the real answer.

This photo sparked some questions about using your phone to pay in a drive-through. Picture: David Ramsay/Perth Have a Whinge
This photo sparked some questions about using your phone to pay in a drive-through. Picture: David Ramsay/Perth Have a Whinge

Victoria Police responded to the poll, revealing it was an offence to use your phone to pay in a drive-through and it carries a whopping $484 fine and four demerit points.

They explained that in order to use a phone as a payment method the vehicle's engine would have to be turned off.

"If you intend to use your mobile phone to pay at the drive-through window, apply the hand brake, switch the engine off and then access your mobile phone," Victoria Police wrote.

"In doing so, you are not considered driving."

A McDonald's spokesperson told news.com.au that while the road rules still applied in their drive-throughs, it was up to the driver to make sure they weren't breaking the law.

"There is an onus on the driver to ensure they are operating their vehicle within applicable road rules, including if they are choosing to use mobile payment methods," the spokesperson said.

"However, provided they do this, it is perfectly legal for customers to use mobile payment in drive-through."

The majority of voters got the question wrong. Picture: Victoria Police/Facebook
The majority of voters got the question wrong. Picture: Victoria Police/Facebook

The rule of having to make sure your car is off and parked before you can pay with your mobile phone applies across the country.

A Transport NSW spokesperson told news.com.au that mobile phone rules applied to drivers on all roads and road-related areas.

"A road-related area is an area that is open to or used by the public for driving, riding or parking vehicles and therefore includes drive-throughs," they said.

"If you want to use a handheld mobile phone, your vehicle must be parked out of the line of traffic."

LAWS COULD BE CHANGED

Australia's strict laws around mobile phone usage while driving could soon be changed, with one organisation claiming current legislation is outdated.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has put forward a consultation paper that outlines different ways in which laws could be amended to better keep up with technology.

Under current laws, drivers are very restricted in how they can interact with technology while behind the wheel.

The NSW Centre for Road Safety website states that drivers with a "full unrestricted licence" can only touch their phone for the purpose of a phone call if it is "secured in a mounting fixed to the vehicle".

Some of the suggested changes would allow drivers using a mounted phone or tablet to text and email by voice control and play music by tapping the screen.

There are a number of proposed changes to Australia’s driver-distraction laws.
There are a number of proposed changes to Australia’s driver-distraction laws.

Rideshare drivers would also be allowed to accept a ride by tapping the screen of their device.

The new laws could also take technology like smart watches into consideration and specifically outline if they can be legally used by a driver.

The NTC has also suggested that other distractions need to be outlined in the law, not just those that focus on technology.

One of the proposed changes would make it illegal for drivers to look away from the road for more than two seconds.

This means that picking something up off the ground, looking down to change the radio or even turning around to control children in the back seat could land drivers in hot water.

NTC chief executive officer Gillian Miles said new technology-related distractions, outdated rules and a general lack of understanding from road users presented significant challenges.

"Drivers engage in non-driving activities every 96 seconds while behind the wheel. Distractions take our concentration off the road, which means we may not have time to react to hazards," he said.

"We are proposing four options for consideration. The views of a broad range of stakeholders are crucial to guide any policy reform to deal with driver distraction."


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