Don’t be dis­tracted

NSW Po­lice tar­get­ing dis­tracted driv­ers dur­ing Christ­mas pe­riod

The Cobram Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By Lach­lan Durl­ing

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.

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