Drivers are being told not to use mobile phones while behind the wheel of their vehicles because there is a significant risk of car accident injuries and fatalities as a result.
NSW Police said 41,894 people have been issued infringement notices since the beginning of last year for calling or texting when driving, 969 of which were in school zones when the incidents occurred.
A further 888 were learner drivers or those with a provisional licence, whereas 2,152 individuals were stopped for mobile phone use while in a truck. Larger vehicles are particularly dangerous as they have the potential to do more damage to other road users during an accident.
Anyone who is involved in a motor crash in NSW could be eligible for compensation, even in circumstances where they are partially to blame.
The money received from a claim can go towards past and future medical expenses, as well as covering lost income and superannuation. However, Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander Assistant Commissioner John Hartley said the best way to avoid a dangerous collision is to avoid picking up a phone when driving.
“It only takes a split second to run off the road or into another vehicle, causing a serious injury, or even a fatal crash,” he explained.
The rules of mobile phone use
General Manager at the Centre for Road Safety Marg Prendergast advised people to be aware of the rules that apply to different drivers.
She explained that learner and P1 motorists should not be using mobile devices at all when behind the wheel, although other drivers can utilise hands-free features to make and receive calls, use GPS and play music.
“If you need to touch the phone in any way, it needs [to] be secured in a fixed mounting,” Ms Prendergast stated.
Mr Hartley said it is inexcusable for people to use their mobiles while in a school zone, as it puts young children at serious risk of injury or death.
“Traffic and Highway Patrol officers routinely focus on mobile phone use throughout the year, where in a single day, over 1,000 infringements are issued to drivers distracted by mobile phones,” he added.
According to Mr Hartley, pedestrians should also be careful when using a phone near roads or pathways where they could come into harm’s way. NSW Police has issued 6,780 infringements to pedestrians who were not following the rules of the road since January 1 2014.