Drivers ignoring road rules in school zones

Get off your mobile phone and stop speeding through school zones before you kill somebody.

And if you speed through a school zone, you face a fine of $2341 and six demerit points on your licence.

That's in case you need a better reason than keeping kids safe.

Sounds simple, and clear - commonsense even. But this message is sadly not getting through to drivers in our region, statistics from the latest police road blitz show.

Last Wednesday NSW police conducted the statewide Operation Compliance 4, targeting driver behaviour on major highways and suburban roads.

Almost 800 drivers were detected driving while using their mobile phones. Another 800 were caught speeding through school zones.

In the southern region, of which the Illawarra is part, the numbers are actually getting worse.

In our region 81 drivers were caught speeding through school zones and 76 were caught using their phone while behind the wheel.

Inspector Phil Brooks of the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command said the mobile phone figure was much worse than in the two previous Operation Compliance efforts, in August and June.

The August 14 operation caught 47 people on their phones in the southern region, and the June 17 operation caught 42.

"That's a very significant issue for motorists in the southern region," Insp Brooks said.

"The key issue is driver distraction. Whether it's sending a text, changing your music tune on the phone or engaging in social networking on the phone, that takes your eyes of the road. And the results are often fatal."

Insp Brooks said the number of people caught in school zones belied the high stakes of speeding with kids around, and he warned that the penalty of $2341 applied to anyone caught going more than 45km/h over the speed limit past a school.

"Driver distraction around school zones is sometimes a fatal error," he said.

"This operation is quite timely for the benefit of modifying driver behaviour in NSW.

"Quite obviously people aren't getting the message."

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