Clarence Valley mobile phone drivers fined $70k
MOBILE phone offences are on the rise across the Clarence Valley with $69,096 in fines issued last financial year, up from $58,676 in 2014-15.
Office of State Revenue figures expose the Coffs-Clarence Highway Patrol as the region's biggest issuer of fines, with 148 notices totalling $54,422 in revenue.
Of those only four infringement notices were issued to learner or P-plate drivers, suggesting it is not just young people flouting the rules.
One Coffs-Clarence Highway Patrol fines was against a driver using a phone in a school zone.
The Grafton policing sector was the second biggest money spinner with 34 fines bringing in $10,846.
NSW Traffic and Highway Patrol Operations Manager Acting Superintendent Robert Toynton said regional NSW as a whole had shown a downward trend in illegal mobile phone use, whereas metropolitan regions were increasing.
"This downward trend is attributed to a number of factors, including continued enforcement, specific operations targeting distraction and mobile phone use and increased awareness by road users of the dangers of mobile phone use," he said.
"The NSW government recently increased the demerit point penalty for mobile phone use while driving from three to four points, and during double demerit operations conducted by Traffic and Highway Patrol, that penalty doubles to eight points.
"It is pleasing to see more people are aware of the dangers of illegal mobile phone use while driving and we hope that this trend continues.
"Safety on the road is a combined effort by the police and road users, and we have to work together to ensure that road users do not take risks that could endanger their lives or the lives of others."
Transport for NSW has relaunched its Get Your Hand Off It campaign in an effort to reduce illegal phone use while driving.
Crash data from 2010-2014 showed there were 236 crashes in NSW where hand-held mobile phone use was a contributing factor - a figure considered greatly under-reported "because of the difficulty of finding evidence of illegal mobile phone use at crash scenes".
"This suggests the size of the problem could be much greater," the Centre for Road Safety says.
The centre has also revealed how far a car travels when a driver looks away from the road for just two seconds - at 60kmh a car covers 33.33m, and at 100kmh it moves 55.56m.