ABC News Online - Sunday 13 April 2002

Wide support for mobile phone driving offence penalty

Motoring and pedestrian groups say penalty increases for people who use their mobile phones when driving will save lives on New South Wales roads.

Yesterday, the New South Wales Transport Minister, Carl Scully, announced that from July anyone using a handheld phone in traffic will face a $220 fine and lose three demerit points.

The NRMA says it is happy to see the penalty increase.

Chief executive Rob Carter says using a mobile in the car is as dangerous as drink driving.

"The research clearly shows that it's the equivalent of being 0.8 in blood alcohol content," he said.

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby says many drivers are aware the practice is illegal and dangerous but have continued to risk the fine.

He says the new penalties will change driver behaviour.

"Demerit points treat the rich and the poor equally and they get bad drivers off our roads," he said.
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