From 1 July 2018 drivers who use their mobile phone whilst behind the wheel will face further risks following the commencement of the Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Road Safety) Act 2018 No 15.
This amendment allows the NSW Police to utilise new camera technologies to detect drivers using a mobile phone and issue infringement notices accordingly. Drivers who are detected using their mobile phone whilst driving will receive a fine of $330 and lose 4 demerit points.
The government has indicated that the previous methods of detecting driving whilst using a mobile phone are not adequate to address the frequency of the offence or the inherent risk associated with committing the offence. In a recent trial of the new technology on the Sydney Harbour Bridge around 750 drivers were detected using their phones over a period of only 6 hours whereas on average in 2017 around 115 drivers per day were detected for the same offence.
Funds collected by the government from mobile phone driving infringements will now be paid into the Community Road Safety Fund which also receives funds collected for other camera detected offences such as speeding and red-light offences. These funds are to be allocated on projects including:
(a) conducting testing, research and investigations in connection with promoting or improving road safety, and
(b) developing and implementing programs (including capital and recurrent works programs), projects, strategies and campaigns for promoting or improving road safety, and
(c) providing advice and assistance to public and local authorities for the promotion or improvement of road safety, and
The new legislation also makes some minor amendments relating to other road transport offences including an increase to the available maximum penalty for the offence of driving under the influence of alcohol or any other drug. A first-time offender can now receive a fine of up to $3,300 or imprisonment for 18 months or both, and a second or subsequent offence of this nature can attract a sentence of a fine of up to $5,500 or imprisonment for 2 years or both.