NSW drivers caught handling their mobile phones will now lose 5 demerit points, up from 4 points, as the NSW Government launches a road safety blitz targeting mobile phone use and drug-driving.
Community supports tougher penalties
A recent survey conducted by the Roads and Maritimes Service reveals 74 per cent of people support a tougher penalty for illegal phone use by motorists, according to NSW Minister for Roads, Melinda Pavey.
Announcing the plan to increase the number of demerit points for illegal mobile phone use, she said there was a clear mandate from the public to get tougher on drivers who endanger other road users.
"We have the community's support on this.
"Three quarters of the population that we surveyed want better and stronger road rules around mobile phone use."
Double demerits would see loss of licence
Minister Pavey said she hoped the increased penalty would make drivers think twice before touching their mobile phone.
"If you think about long weekends or double demerit periods, you could actually be at risk of losing your license," Minister Pavey said.
In New South Wales, Learner, P1 and P2 licence holders are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving.
Fully licensed motorists can use their phone legally to make or answer calls or listen to music only if it is in a cradle, doesn't obscure the driver's view of the road and can be operated without touching any part of the phone, e.g. using Bluetooth or voice activation.
Texting, emailing, social media and photography are all prohibited unless a vehicle is parked out of traffic.
The demerit change, which will come into effect in September, is one of several measures the Government hopes will keep the public safe from dangerous drivers.
Drug-driving definition to be expanded
Meanwhile new legislation will also be introduced to Parliament that will broaden the definition of "drug" to encapsulate "a broad range of new and emerging drugs" including prescription medications which can impair driving.
An advertising campaign about the risks of driving while on prescription medication will also be rolled out.
Changes to guidelines for the Opioid Treatment Program will encourage doctors to report a patient to the Driver Licensing Authority if they have concerns about their ability to operate a vehicle.