A crackdown on drivers using mobile phones could see some blow almost all their demerit points in one hit.
From Monday, the number of demerit points a driver gets for illegally using a mobile phone will jump from four to five points.
With mobile phone use one of the offences covered under the double demerit system, that means those caught when that period is in force will cop a whopping 10 demerit points.
With the demerit point limit set at 13 for an unrestricted licence, it means getting caught using a phone during double demerits will see drivers just three demerit points shy of losing their licence.
The 13 points cover a three-year period – which means those drivers would have a nervous few years driving around with just two points to spare (once a driver reaches 13 points, their licence is suspended).
The fine will remain the same at $337 – or $448 in a school zone.
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The news is even worse for Learner and P1 and P2 drivers – who are not allowed to use a mobile phone at all while driving.
Five demerit points will see Learners and P1 drivers lose their licence instantly.
A P2 driver – who has a seven-point limit – would only have a two-point buffer before they could lose their licence.
This is the second time in three years the government has raised the demerit points for mobile phone use.
Centre for Road Safety executive director Bernard Carlon said it was because mobile phone use is a growing problem in NSW.
“Last financial year over 40,000 people were fined for using a mobile phone while driving and we know around 25 per cent of drivers in NSW admit to doing it,” Mr Carlon said.
“At 60km/h, a car travels 33 metres in two seconds, at 100km/h it travels 55 metres. Take your eyes off the road for a few seconds and you continue to travel, virtually blind.
“Such a short lapse of concentration can have significant and devastating consequences and from 2012 to 2017, nine people lost their lives and 50 people were seriously injured because someone was using a mobile phone while driving.”
Demerit points for mobile phone use began in July 2002 with three – prior to then drivers only copped a $102 fine.
It remained at three points until 2016 when the NSW Government increased the penalty to four points.
The rules around mobile phone use are strict; it is not allowed to touch any part of your body, not even if it’s sitting on your lap.
It must be in a commercially designed cradle but texting is not allowed at any time.