NSW po­lice get tougher on calls

The Riverine Herald - - LOCAL CLASSIES -

NSW po­lice will be tar­get­ing dis­tracted driv­ers this Christ­mas af­ter NRMA re­ported al­most 42,000 fines is­sued in NSW last fi­nan­cial year for driv­ers us­ing their 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 in­cur 10 de­merit points.

For NSW fully-li­cenced driv­ers, that leaves three points be­fore a loss of li­cence, and two in a three-year pe­riod for Vic­to­ri­ans.

NSW Po­lice west­ern sec­tor In­spec- tor Paul Huggett re­minded driv­ers to take reg­u­lar breaks from driv­ing and to use that time while stopped 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,” Insp. Huggett 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 grown 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 couldn’t quan­tify one of­fence over the other, they have 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,” Insp. Huggett 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 pro­vided a timely 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,” Mr Khoury 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.”

Around one-in-10 fa­tal­i­ties in­volved il­le­gal phone use and the mea­sures taken to­day were de­signed to pre­vent this be­hav­iour sur­pass­ing speed or drink driv­ing as a road risk.

“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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