Drivers fail to get phone message
2000 charges since cop crash
MORE than 2000 drivers have been caught using their mobile phones since two police officers were seriously injured when an alleged serial texter mowed them down.
Senior Constables Jonathon Wright and Matthew Foley were crushed between two cars at a roadside breath test in Sydney’s southwest last month.
Jakob Thornton, 22, allegedly told police he had been looking at his phone for as long as 20 seconds when his vehicle ploughed into the officers at Leumeah.
Senior Constable Wright had part of his leg amputated and remains in hospital after another operation a week ago. Senior Constable Foley broke a leg and was discharged last week.
The Sunday Telegraph immediately launched a campaign calling for motorists caught flouting the phone laws to lose their licence.
In a message to his troops in the wake of the crash, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller urged all police to “maintain the highest levels of alert in the field”.
But, despite a police crackdown over the past few weeks, it appears thousands of motorists have not been listening. Police figures show 2396 mobile phone infringements have been handed out to drivers since the Leumeah crash on February 16.
Last year about 43,000 fines were handed out for the same behaviour.
Phone distraction has emerged as an increasing trend in serious or fatal car crashes. Between 2012 and 2016 there were 113 drivers or motorbike riders involved in casualty crashes where mobile phone use was a factor.
University of NSW Transport and Road Safety Research Centre director Professor Ann Williamson is involved in a study on the effects of distracted driving.
She said the messages about the risks of using a phone while driving were getting through but compliance was the issue.
“I doubt you would find anyone on the road that doesn’t know you are not meant to use your mobile phone,” she said.
“The enforcement side of road safety is very effective. If drivers think they are going to get a ticket or fine they will think twice about what they are doing.”
Senior Constable Jonathon Wright with wife Lisa Jane and their kids.