Police operation a wake-up call to drivers on phones


The dangerous phone behaviours ofLower Hunter drivershave been revealed in a recent one day police operation which caught 66 motoristson their mobiles.

The alarming statistics found in Maitland, Cessnock and Port Stephenswere almost doubled in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, where another 125 drivers were nabbed for the offence.

“That’s a huge problem,” Hunter Highway Patrolsupervisor Senior SergeantTony Grace said. “It’s pervasive behaviour.”

“If you’re travelling at 60km/h,every second you takeyour eyes off the road you travel 16 metres. That’s the length of an Olympic swimming pool ina few seconds.”

The numbers are so worrying that police will launch a major offensive this week.

While the most recentoperation involved officers on foot, just one police motorbike was used.That capability will increase six-fold this week.

Six marked motorcycles and one unmarked carhave been brought in tohit the streets ofMaitland, Cessnock and Port Stephens until Friday and again in September.

Read more: NSW’s world-first, high-tech crackdown on mobile phones in carsHunter top of the glass for drink driving“We have a few bikes stationed here permanently, but it’s rare that people would see a large group of them,” Senior Sergeant Grace said.

Police will targetmobile phone use, speeding and seat belt offences.

The bikes allow police to spot drivers usingphones in their laps,a problemSenior Sergeant Grace saidhas increased with less people calling and more texting.

He said evenusing a phone while stopped intrafficwas a huge danger.

“When you’re driving your only job is to drive thevehicle, even when it’s stationary,” he said. “If you miss a light change, itcan cause congestion which leads to frustration in other drivers.”

Senior Sergeant Grace said the bikes would also help officers squeeze into tighter spots to detect speeding and be more agile in peaktraffic.

He said the idea was to be more visible, refuting the notion it was just to catchmore drivers.

“Motorcycles are more effective in targeting these offences, but they’re still a visual deterrent,” he said. “We’re telling the public we’re going to be out there. There has been multiple warnings.”

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