Don’t be distracted
NSW Police targeting distracted drivers during Christmas period
NSW police will target distracted drivers this Christmas after NRMA reported almost 42 000 fines issued last financial year were to drivers using mobile phones.
The double demerit period, coupled with the increased demerit points for mobile phone use while driving, means anyone caught using their phone on NSW roads will lose 10 points.
For drivers with a full NSW licence, that leaves three points before a loss of licence, and two in a threeyear period for Victorians.
NSW Police western sector Inspector Paul Huggett reminded drivers to take regular breaks from driving and to use that time to check their phone.
‘‘That text or that call can wait for an hour. No-one’s waiting on a text more important than their life and the lives of other drivers,’’ he said.
‘‘Every town has a park, toilets and a place to buy a coffee or drink, you don’t need a driver reviver stop to be prompted to take a break.’’
The number of people caught using their phones illegally has increased 18 per cent since 2014-15.
Alarmingly, the number of fines continued to increase even after the number of demerit points rose from three to four in January 2016.
Insp Huggett said while police could not quantify one offence above the other, they had noticed an increase in certain offences.
‘‘Police are actively targeting all roads in the shire and any drivers who are on drugs, drunk, distracted, speeding — we’re taking any opportunity to enforce positive driving measures,’’ he said.
‘‘Drivers need to remember, it’s better to get there 30 minutes late but alive.’’
NRMA Insurance has launched its Christmas road safety campaign — ‘Don’t drive naughty’ — which drives home the message of not using your phone while driving through the adventures of a young girl and her animated bunny.
NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury said the campaign was a reminder of the role loved ones, both real and stuffed, could play in keeping us safe this Christmas.
‘‘An important message from the NRMA Insurance campaign is when it comes to safety in the car nobody is too young to speak up if they see something wrong,’’ he said.
‘‘Fifteen per cent of people who use their phones illegally think they won’t get caught and not every driver will have the watchful presence of a child and her talking rabbit in the car, so the onus must be on all of us to put our phones away.’’
About one-in-10 fatalities involved illegal phone use.
‘‘At the end of the day when we measure up the safety of our loved ones with the temptation to check your Facebook feed or send a text, it’s a nobrainer,’’ Mr Khoury said.