Demerit Point Increase For Using Your Mobile Phone While Driving

If you're caught during double demerits, you'll lose 10 points.

Drivers who illegally use a mobile phone on New South Wales roads will be penalised an extra demerit point from Monday onward.

The demerit point fine will be increased from four to five, meaning that drivers who break the law during double demerits will lose a total of 10 points.

And while most people would know that it's illegal to use a phone to text while driving -- and licenced drivers should definitely know this -- it's worth remembering that its also illegal to use social media and take photos, even while stopped at a red light.

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In 2017, NSW Police Minister Troy Grant was fined $325 for taking a photo of sheep with his mobile phone while behind the wheel of a car, after posting the photo to social media.

"When you do the wrong thing and it's brought to your attention, you've gotta to the right thing and cop it on the chin like everyone else," he told 2GB.

It's also illegal to hold your phone in any way, including by resting it in your lap.

However, fully licenced drivers are legally allowed to make and receive phone calls, use the audio function to play music, and use navigation apps, but only if the phone is fixed to the car without obscuring the drivers view, or can be operated without touching any part of it.

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"Remember: legal use of mobile phones can also be detracting," the Road Safety website said.

"Consider if it is important and the demands of the traffic before using your mobile.

"The safest option is often to wait until you are parked out of the line of traffic."

When is it illegal to use your phone while driving?
  • Texting or audio texting
  • Emailing
  • Using social media
  • Taking photos
  • Video messaging
  • Holding your phone in any way (in hand, on lap, between shoulder and ear). Drivers are only allowed to hold a phone to pass it to a passenger

It comes after a driver allegedly intoxicated and using a mobile phone hit a family on an evening stroll in Kellyville.

The mum and a four-year-old girl are fighting for their lives in hospital, while the 50-year-old driver has been charged.

READ MORE: Family Hospitalised After Being Hit In Night Time Stroll

In NSW alone, a total of 236 car crashes in a period of four years were caused by drivers using mobile phones, but due to under-reporting its believed the real figure could be much higher.

Seven of those crashes were fatal. Data shows that by taking your eye off the road for longer than two seconds doubles your risk of a crash.

"A short lapse of concentration can have lifelong consequences."

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Lead image: Getty