Police are targeting people using mobile phones whilst driving over the Christmas period.
Police are targeting people using mobile phones whilst driving over the Christmas period. Contributed

Doing this while driving will cost you 10 demerit points

IF YOU are caught using your mobile phone while driving this Christmas, you will lose 10 points off your licence and cop a $337 fine.

The NRMA has launched a new Christmas safety campaign and say around one-in-10 fatalities involved illegal phone use. They hope their campaign can help prevent this behaviour surpassing speed or drink driving as a road risk.

Almost 42,000 fines were issued to drivers last financial year to people using phones whilst driving, and this Christmas, drivers risk losing 10 demerit points if caught over the double-demerit holiday period.

The NRMA reminder comes in the same week that NRMA Insurance launched its Christmas Road Safety campaign, Don't Drive Naughty, which drives home the message of not using your phone illegally through the adventures of a young girl and her animated bunny.

In Queensland, you can be fined $391 and have 3 demerit points recorded against your traffic history if your mobile phone is in your hand and being used for any reason while you are driving-including when you're stopped at traffic lights or in congested traffic.

Double demerit points apply for second or subsequent mobile phone offences committed within 1 year after an earlier offence.

NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury said the NSW campaign provided a timely reminder of the role loved ones, both real and stuffed, could play in keeping us safe this Christmas.

"An important message from the NRMA Insurance campaign is when it comes to safety in the car nobody is too young to speak up if they see something wrong," Mr Khoury said.

"Fifteen per cent of people who use their phones illegally think they won't get caught and not every driver will have the watchful presence of a child and her talking rabbit in the car so the onus must be on all of us to put our phones away.

"Education - such as the NRMA Insurance campaign we are seeing this Christmas - backed up by strong enforcement is the most effective way to stop people using their phones illegally behind the wheel," Mr Khoury said.

"It is anticipated that next year there will be new camera technology rolled out across NSW to help detect illegal mobile phone use. The NRMA supports this technology if it includes warning signs.

"However at the end of the day when we measure up the safety of our loved ones with the temptation to check your Facebook feed or send a text, it's a no-brainer."

The number of people caught using their phones illegally has grown 18 per cent since 2014/15. Alarmingly fines continued to increase even after the number of demerit points rose from three to four in January 2016:

  • 35,370 (FY14/15)
  • 38,443 (FY15/16)
  • 40,631 (FY16/17)
  • 41,809 (FY17/18)