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Crackdown on phone usage

Friday, 21st September, 2018

Penalties have increased for drivers who use mobile phones. PICTURE: Emily Ferguson Penalties have increased for drivers who use mobile phones. PICTURE: Emily Ferguson

By Emily Ferguson

New South Wales drivers now face harsher penalties for using their mobile phone illegally.

The new penalties will see motorists who are caught using their mobile phone lose five demerit points, an increase from the previous four. This also means that during periods of double demerit points, drivers using their phone behind the wheel will lose a total of 10 demerit points. As well as the loss of demerit points, there is also a $337 fine when caught in the act, which also doubles in times of double demerit.

Motorists with a Learner, P1 or P2 license are not permitted to use their mobile phone under any circumstances while operating a car. The harsher penalties mean a Learner or P1 motorist caught using their phone while driving will automatically face a three-month suspension of their license.  

P2 drivers would have a remaining three demerit points if penalised for illegally using a mobile phone. 

Inspector Yvette Smith of the Broken Hill Police said that illegal mobile phone use unfortunately happens everywhere, not just in Broken Hill and these harsher penalties have obviously been brought in as it is a serious issue.

“The only thing we can do to get people to stop using their phones is to increase penalties,” she said.

Insp Smith said the State Government and NSW Police have identified five things that contribute to road accidents.

They include mobile phones, vehicle settings such as mirror or seat adjustments, eating drinking or smoking, passengers and external distractions. 

“It’s hard for us to stop people from getting distracted but the two things we can crack down on is mobile phones and vehicle adjustments.”

“We are the strictest state in the country on mobile phones,” said Insp Smith. “It’s about everybody taking responsibility and we want to get the road toll down, get it to stop ... people just aren’t listening and it’s really sad.”

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