How some NSW drivers are beating mobile phone fines

| 04.08,20. 02:51 PM |

How some NSW drivers are beating mobile phone fines

Drivers challenging mobile phone detection fines

A loophole some NSW motorists are using to dodge demerit points after being busted driving with their mobile phone could soon be closed.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has threatened to hit companies with major fine hikes, if employees driving company cars falsely challenge infringements by insisting the person snapped by mobile phone cameras is not them.

Speaking to Ray Hadley on 2GB, Mr Constance said the mobile phone cameras had been an overwhelming "success", despite the demerit dodgers.

But he also warned speeding fatalities on NSW roads were up about 50 per cent since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Mr Constance said the upper house needed to pass legislation on "the onus of proof" which is currently allowing some drivers to beat the mobile phone demerit system.

If a person driving a company car successfully argues it was not them photographed by a camera then the driver avoids five demerit points and their company is hit with a fine.

In those instances, the fine for an individual increases five-fold for a company.

But today Mr Constance said he may sting companies with heftier financial penalties to shut down a loophole some were exploiting.

"If we have to up that (fine system) even more then that is something that will be on the table," he said.

"We're having a look at the Road Transport Act at the moment in terms of what we can do to try facilitate greater accountability of people doing the wrong thing in company cars."

Mr Constance said he wanted to avoid local courts being "jammed up" with people fighting mobile phone driving offences.

New Upper House legislation would give "absolute clarity around the scheme" and "no ifs or buts" if a driver mischievously tried to challenge an infringement in a local court.
He said some drivers were arguing "it wasn't them" despite photographic evidence.

Motorists caught using their phone while driving should lose five demerit points and face a $344 fine, or a $457 fine if caught in a school zone.

Detection cameras photograph all passing cars, with a computer then identifying drivers who have a phone in their hand.

The system is expected to scan 123 million cars every year.

Mr Constance told 2GB how speeding offences in the state had not dropped, even though roads during the virus restrictions were much less busy.

He said deaths caused by speed on NSW roads in this period had jumped notably.

"It's gone from like 40 per cent of accidents caused by speed in terms of fatalities up to about 60 or 70 per cent during the covid period," he said.

"We've got this massive challenge now ... of people speeding during covid and they need to slow down."


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