New South Wales drivers will have their licence taken away if they’re caught using a mobile phone just once a year over three years.
The state government on Tuesday upped its crackdown on illegal mobile phone use, with prescription drug drivers also in their sights.
Driving while using a mobile phone will now cost five demerit points, up from four, Roads Minister Melinda Pavey announced.
Unrestricted drivers are suspended when they reach 13 points in three years. It means motorists would lose their licence if they’re caught driving on their mobile phone three times over a three-year period.
NSW will have the toughest demerit penalty in the country when the change is rolled out in September.
It also lead to a $337 fine this year, or $448 while in a school zone.
Doctors will also be urged to dob in patients on prescription drugs who continue to drive, in a bid to get them off the roads.
Ms Pavey told 2GB Radio that doctors could report people on opioid treatment programs or deemed at high risk of driving while impaired to the state’s driving licensing authority.
She hopes the reforms will save lives after a bloody year on NSW roads, with 392 deaths last year.
The Falkholt family of four – including Home and Away actor Jessica – were all killed when a serial driving offender smashed into their car on the south coast on Boxing Day in 2017.
There were 184 crashes involving mobile phones between 2012 and 2017, resulting in seven deaths and 105 injuries.
NSW Police doled out more than 40,000 fines for illegal mobile phone use in the 2016-17 financial year.
The government aims to take the number of road deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2056. One person is killed or seriously injured in crashes in the state every 41 minutes.
Ms Pavey said a crackdown on mobile phone use had support from 74 per cent of the community.
“We all see it and the community has had enough,” Ms Pavey said in a statement.
The government has been seeking camera technology to identify people driving while using a mobile phone.
“We have already introduced legislation to enable camera-based technology so it can be used to enforce mobile phone offences in the future, a world first.”
Tenders for the technology opened in April after the Road Safety Plan 2021 was launched in February.