Mobile phone use while driving continues to cause an unacceptable amount of car accident injuries and deaths in New South Wales.
The state’s police force has condemned people who make phone calls or text when behind the wheel, as officers launched Operation Compliance 2 on Wednesday (July 15).
Conducted statewide, the initiative targeted irresponsible driver behaviour and resulted in NSW Police handing out 1,256 infringement notices for mobile phone-related incidents. A further 81 people were stopped for non-compliant number plates, while 640 vehicles did not meet safety standards.
The law prevents drivers from speaking on their mobiles unless the device is hands-free or utilises Bluetooth technology. People can also use their phone if it is placed in a holder and doesn’t require the speaker to touch the keypad.
According to NSW Police, the Central Metropolitan Region had the highest number of offenders in Wednesday’s initiative at 552. North West Metro saw 227 infringements, while Northern tallied 227. South West Metro, Southern and Western totalled 138, 41 and 21 penalties respectively.
Tackling car accident injuries
Assistant Commissioner of NSW Police John Hartley said there have been a number of car accident injuries and fatalities this year, highlighting the importance of schemes such as Operation Compliance.
He stated there were four deaths on Wednesday evening, bringing the road toll for 2015 to 178 people from 167 crashes. This is five fatalities and one accident more than the same time last year.
“We can, and will, stand these operations up at any time to ensure that the greatest risks on our roads, which from this operation was illegal mobile phone use, are rigorously enforced to ensure the safety of those drivers, their passengers and other road users,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley remarked.
Bernard Carlon, general manager at the Centre for Road Safety, said mobile phones are a huge risk for drivers, as they take people’s eyes off the task at hand. He added that individuals who use their devices while behind the wheel are not just putting their own lives at risk, but the lives of others.
“This is why we have strict rules for using mobile phones while driving,” he stated. “Learner and P1 drivers aren’t allowed to use their phones at all when driving.”
His comments followed the NSW government’s announcement last month that a historic $307 million budget would go towards road safety investment in the state. NSW Police will receive $25 million of funding for enforcement initiatives such as Operation Compliance.