After a mobile phone camera program was rolled out across NSW from the beginning of December, alarming statistics have revealed just how many drivers are ignoring the law when it comes to distractions behind the wheel.
There were 3303 motorists caught using their phone illegally while driving in the first week of the mobile detection camera program.
The world-first technology caught the drivers while checking 773,532 vehicles.
Although the location of the eight cameras has not been revealed by the state government, Roads Minister Andrew Constance revealed on Tuesday three of the hotspots for detection.
He told 2GB cameras in Lucas Heights, in southern Sydney, detected 210 offenders, while cameras on the Sydney Harbour Bridge caught 179.
Cameras at Nowra, north of Jervis Bay, detected 126 drivers breaking the law.
Mr Constance said the state “needs everybody to just wake up to themselves”.
A trial that ran between January and June caught more than 100,000 motorists using a mobile phone illegally while driving, out of 8.5 million vehicles checked.
Mr Constance said people needed to understand that driving with a mobile phone is "one of the most reckless and stupid things you can do".
"Not only can you kill yourself, you can kill others," Mr Constance said on Tuesday.
"If you look down at 60 kilometres per hour you're going to travel 33 metres in about two seconds. That's a lot of roadway without anybody paying any attention."
A three-month "grace period" means drivers caught using mobile phones will receive a warning letter only until March.
Fines educate ‘idiots’ breaking law
Come March, drivers will receive a $344 fine, or $457 if caught in a school zone. They will also lose five demerit points or 10 during double demerit periods.
Mr Constance said claims the fines were revenue raising were “just rubbish” and that all fines go into a fund to educate previous offenders “to get idiots to do the right thing in the first place.”
There won't be warning signs highlighting the cameras because driving while illegally using a phone is "as dangerous as drink driving - it's as reckless as drink driving," Mr Constance said.
Transport for NSW's Centre for Road Safety executive director Bernard Carlon said he is disappointed so many people are still holding their phone in their hand while driving.
"We just say to everybody, get your hand off it, there's no need to be holding your mobile phone once you're driving your car," Mr Carlon told reporters.
Independent modelling suggests the program could prevent about 100 fatal and serious injury crashes over five years.
"We need to see a steep behavioural change from motorists to save lives," Mr Carlon said in a statement on Tuesday.
The program will expand progressively to undertake an estimated 135 million vehicle checks on the state's roads each year by 2023.
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