NEXT time you're tempted to dial while driving, remember you're nearly 25 times more likely to crash.
That's the message from police who are faced with a growing number of motorists using phones behind the wheel.
In the year to date, Northern command has seen a 33 per cent rise in people (880) booked for the offence.
``An increasing number of crashes are now being attributed to people using their mobile phones, including checking their messages,'' said Senior Constable Annabel Shegog, of Northern Community Policing Services.
``It creates dangerous situations that can and have resulted in serious and fatal crashes occurring.''
Senior Constable Shegog said it was common to catch motorists using their phones even in Bluetooth-equipped cars.
``Offenders are not limited to young people either,'' she said.
``Many parents and grandparents are reliant on their phones and are setting a poor example for novice drivers.''
So what are the rules?
If the phone can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone, including answering and terminating a call, then that's the exception. Otherwise everything else, including texting and even just holding the phone, is banned.
``You cannot touch your mobile phone, even when your car has stopped at an intersection, is at traffic lights or is stationary in a line of traffic,'' she said.
``Holding includes resting the mobile on the driver's lap or between the chin and shoulder, or passing the phone to a passenger.''
Senior Constable Shegog said the risk of crashing while using a phone increased by as much as four times and up to 23 times when texting.
Using your phone while driving is a $300 fine and three demerit points.