27 Dec 2010

Twice as many caught using phones while driving

5:31 pm on 27 December 2010

Police say a 50% increase in breaches of the ban on using cellphones while driving is not necessarily a sign drivers are getting complacent about the ban.

In the first three months of the ban, from November 2009, police officers issued about 450 infringement notices a month to motorists. By October 2010, that had risen to more than 800.

Police say, however, that the rise may just reflect the fact that officers are concentrating on drivers using cellphones.

"Maybe we're just getting better at catching them," the National Manager for Road Policing, Paula Rose, says.

Only a 'temporary drop'

But the editor of the Dog and Lemon car buyers' guide, Clive Matthew-Wilson, says overseas experience is that determined cellphone users are not often dissuaded by the odds of being caught and fined.

"All the overseas research shows that you get a temporary drop in cellphone use when you impose a ban enforced by fines," Mr Matthew-Wilson says.

"Then it slowly creeps back up again, and the people who are most likely to use cellphones are the people that are also most likely to take a high risk - that is, texters and couriers."

Mr Matthew-Wilson says confiscating offenders' phones for three days would be more effective.