Policeman caught in mobile madness

A senior police officer will get an infringement and six demerit points after being pictured on the front page of _The West Australian _talking on his mobile phone while behind the wheel.

Sen. Sgt Tony Booker, of Perth police station, was one of the 24 drivers on the front page on Wednesday after being photographed using their phones.

Sen. Sgt Booker recalled yesterday that his car was stationary at traffic lights and that he took a call after his hands-free kit dropped out.

He said he had likely just picked up his children from sport when photographed at the corner of Canning Highway and Sleat Road in Applecross about midday on Thursday last week.

"The car is fitted with hands-free," Sen. Sgt Booker said. "It's got a bluetooth hands-free and I think it was stationary at the time and, from memory, I think it dropped and I think I picked it up for like two seconds and said 'the hands free has dropped and I will call you back when I can'.

"That can be the only explanation. The hands-free does work, it's bluetooth, it's an iPhone and it's all connected.

"I've obviously had to do something quickly because it's dropped or something but it's certainly not anywhere near my usual practice."

It is illegal to use a phone when behind the wheel on WA roads even when the car is stationary.

Sen. Sgt Booker was identified after fellow police officers raised concerns WA Police was not taking the matter seriously.

He said he would face the appropriate penalties, as anybody else would, if the photograph was confirmed to be of him.

"I am no different than anybody else," he said. "If I've done it, I accept it and if it happens again I will have to make sure I'm pulled over properly, not at an intersection.

"If I was moving I wouldn't have touched it and I shouldn't have touched it.

"We are only human. Learn by everyone's mistakes, including mine."

Assistant Commissioner Nick Anticich said Sen. Sgt Booker would get an infringement "like everyone else" if he was found to have broken the law.

"I am disappointed but unfortunately I think it is indicative of the ubiquitous nature of this mobile phone phenomenon," Mr Anticich said.

"Everyone from all walks of life succumbs to this temptation of using their mobile phone while driving."

Insp. Dominic Wood said WA Police would fully investigate the allegation.

The photos on the front page were taken between April 15 and April 22 for an investigation by _The West Australian _.

It captured 25 drivers using phones in full view and dozens of others appeared distracted by something out of sight, likely to be a phone.

At a press conference yesterday after the deadly Easter long weekend on WA's roads that claimed six lives, Mr Anticich said people who used their phone while driving were "totally irresponsible" and risked the lives of innocent road users.

Police said that a 28-year-old woman who was critically injured in a head-on crash near Margaret River on Sunday night had died in hospital.

The West Australian

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