Driv­ers fail to get phone mes­sage

2000 charges since cop crash

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - AVA BENNY- MOR­RI­SON CRIME RE­PORTER

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.

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