AN extra demerit point for motorists caught using their mobile phone while driving is reducing the number of offences, police say.
In September last year, the penalty for motorists caught illegally using their phones while driving increased from four to five points.
This meant that during double demerit periods 10 demerit points would be incurred and for some drivers that would mean an automatic loss of licence.
During 2017/18 officers issued 335 infringement notices for the offence to motorists in the Chifley, Canobolas and Orana Mid-Western police districts.
In 2018/19 this number had dropped by 23.6 per cent to 256 fines.
Traffic and Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant Jason Bush said people often don't realise how far their vehicle travels when their "eyes are off the road".
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Transport for NSW data shows that in two seconds a vehicle driving at 60km will travel 33.3 metres, at 100km/h this increases to 55.6 metres.
"The increase in demerit points from four to five has had a positive effect and people are aware of the points that can be lost when using their phone," Senior Sergeant Bush.
"I've personally seen not as many fines issued during double demerit times."
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The number of fines issued in Canobolas dropped from year to year, from 41 to 21, while in Orana Mid-Western infringements dropped from 172 to 96.
The number of infringements in Chifley, however, not only increased year-on-year, but it was also much higher than the other regions with fines rising from 122 during 2017/18 to 139 in 2018/19.
Senior Sergeant Bush said it was disappointing that so many motorists were still using their phone behind the wheel.
"It may just be a social problem. Maybe it's a habit for some drivers out there that they just need to pick up the phone and check the message or take the call," he said.
"Socially we don't accept drink driving and we hope in time that mobile phone use has the same culture shift that drink driving did."
Senior Sergeant Bush said police have the ability to investigate mobile phone records if required.
"It's something that we are able to look at, particularly if a serious crash or fatality occurs," he said.
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