Motorists around Orange have been fined $28,327 in the past year after being caught using their mobile phones while driving.
The latest Revenue NSW figures revealed 86 motorists in the Canobolas Local Area Command [LAC], which includes Orange and Cowra, were issued with mobile phone offences in 2017.
The worst month was July when 13 motorists were caught using their phones and were issued with fines totalling $4290.
However, the number of offences was fewer than in both the Chifley [Bathurst-Lithgow region] and Orana [Dubbo-Mudgee area] police LACs.
Highway patrol officers booked 247 people for mobile offences in the Orana LAC, with fines totalling $81,216.
In Chifley police booked 128 drivers, with fines totalling $42,147.
Across NSW 40,768 people were booked for mobile phone use in vehicles in 2017.
They paid $13.4 million in fines.
Canobolas LAC Highway Patrol supervisor Sergeant Mark Hevers said mobile phone use had been involved in at least one road death in the region last year.
He said police still saw plenty of drivers using mobile phones despite extensive campaigns warning of the dangers of motorists being distracted while driving.
“Mobile phone use is prolific. I don’t know whether they are not getting the message, or they are ignoring it or are just complacent,” he said.
He said it appeared to be worse in town than on the open road.
“It seems we are seeing more use of it around town but it is happening out on the highway.”
Sergeant Hevers said the simplest solution for motorists was to avoid mobile phones when driving.
“Don’t touch them,” he said.
“The only time a driver can hold a phone is to pass it to a passenger to answer it.”
Earlier this month the Australian Medical Association [AMA] called for tougher penalties for mobile phone users.
It said mobile phones and other electronic devices were a “major cause of accidents, trauma and death.”
AMA President Dr Michael Gannon said harsher penalties might help reduce accidents and deaths.
“Doctors, along with paramedics, ambulance officers and nurses, see the tragic consequences of road trauma,” he said.
“They see when road safety is ignored and when avoidable accidents occur – accidents that take lives and cause horrific injuries.”
The AMA’s proposal included disqualifying L-plate and P-plate drivers for up to 12 months if they were caught using mobile phones.