NSW police  highway patrol car. 07 October 2016
NSW police highway patrol car. 07 October 2016 Trevor Veale

Phone ban extended to combat rising road toll

USING mobile phones in any way is now banned for all P-platers driving in NSW.

Rules in force from today mean drivers on green P-plates must not make or receive phone calls while behind the wheel nor use functions on their phone that offer a "hands- free" approach such as Bluetooth, streaming music, and GPS navigation systems.

Previously these restrictions had applied only to those on red plates.

The move is a response to the rise of the road toll in NSW, including 21 deaths this year involving P-plate drivers.

The Daily Examiner's sports reporter Matthew Elkerton is a green P-plate driver and can see the benefits of the new rules.

"You're driving on the highways or driving on the streets of Grafton and you see people not paying attention," Mr Elkerton said.

"They're looking down and then looking back up and then looking down," he said.

"When you look at the statistics and you do see all the provisional drivers that are involved in accidents and sometimes when you look around and see the way P-platers do tend to act on the road, if it's going to lessen these statistics, then yes it's fair."

Drivers who breach these laws will lose four demerit points, a total that for those on learner or P1 licences would result in receiving a three-month suspension from the road.

"If that's what it will take to get people to stop touching their phones, stop looking at their phone, and stop taking their eyes off the road, then so be it, it's the right punishment," Mr Elkerton said.

"I know when I first looked at the new laws I was angry, like 'oh no, this sucks, this is going to change everything'," he said.

"But the biggest thing this is going to change is road safety, and that's paramount.

"As drivers we need to be as safe as we possibly can. not only for us, but for the people on the road with us.

"Every time we step into a car their lives are in our hands."

Further licence conditions will be implemented from November 1 next year, including a six-month extension to provisional licence periods for those who do not maintain a good driving record.

This will apply to P2 drivers wanting an unrestricted licence instead of sitting the Driver Qualification Test.

P2 licence holders (green P plates) will now have the same restrictions as learner or P1 licence holders.

P2 licence holders found to be using a mobile phone while driving or riding will be fined $325 and be penalised four demerit points. Double demerit points are applicable.

Fines increase to $433 if the driver or rider is found to be using a mobile phone illegally in a school zone.

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