With the number of mobile phone owners set to reach 20 million this year, it was probably inevitable that cameras to detect drivers using mobile phones would be rolled out sooner rather than later. But when trials using only two cameras in Sydney during the last three months detected 800 drivers per day illegally using their phones, it left camera developers agape.
The rules apply across the country, but the penalties alter from State to State ...Kenny McGilvary
Whistleout spokesman Kenny McGilvary said it was just one little snapshot of what was happening in Sydney, but the new technology was an excellent reason for some drivers to get used to not touching their phones while travelling - and what better time than Easter to begin?
"Previously there were about 110 fines per day in NSW for this kind of offence. Right now they have been issuing warnings, based on the trial," he said.
"When these cameras start issuing fines, which is going to start happening in a month, those fines and demerit points are going to skyrocket.
"And you can expect that trial to be extended further across NSW and across the country given time. It's something that people do need to be aware of."
Mr McGivary thought the eventual arrival of the cameras was a good financial incentive for country drivers to stop using their phones while driving now.
He said the figures were possibly not surprising given how addicted people seemed to be to their phones, but said it was still not widely understood what you could and couldn't do.
"You need to have a cradle that doesn't obstruct your view of the road [if you use your phone as a navigational aid], and be able to operate it hands free without touching the phone," he said.
"The rules apply across the country, but the penalties alter from State to State and the Territories as well. Only about half the country has double demerit periods in place for public holidays.
"NSW, WA and the ACT apply double demerits. In Queensland double demerits apply all year round, so if you commit two offences within the same 12 month period you will lose double demerit points."
He said NSW had the heaviest penalties with a typical offence for driving while using a mobile phone costing the driver five demerit points and a $448 fine.
"That goes up to 10 demerit points in a public holiday period," he said.
"So, with each licence having 13 points on it, you pretty much wipe out all your licence points with one text.
"And it's worthwhile remembering, if you're travelling into Queensland those rules will still apply."
Learner, P1 and P2 licence holders are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all. You must be parked out of the line of traffic to use your phone in any way.