Increase of drivers on mobiles alarming

A THREEFOLD increase in people using mobile phones while driving has alarmed Northern police during Operation Zero.

The statewide 24-hour road safety enforcement campaign ended on Wednesday night.

Northern police fined six people and cautioned three for using their mobile phones during Operation Zero in 2013.

This year, however, officers caught 26 motorists using their mobiles, about three times as many.

Acting Inspector Andrew Keane, of Northern District Support Services, said there had been a lot of warning in the media about Operation Zero, with mobile phone use identified as a target.

"A lot of people should have been aware they should not have been doing that, but there were quite a lot of breaches," he said.

"Whatever the reasons for their offending, the fact remains drivers were doing it and putting people in a fair bit of danger."

Conversely, police fined no- one for jaywalking: pedestrians ignoring "don't walk" signs at designated crossings or otherwise crossing the road in an unsafe manner.

Acting Inspector Keane said the warning about jaywalking being a focus of the campaign must have got through.

No crashes resulting in serious injuries were reported either, despite the heavy morning fog in the Launceston area.

However, the North recorded most of the state's drug- drivers: five out of eight positive drug tests statewide were in the North.

Last year during Operation Zero, Northern officers caught one drug-driver, and no drink- drivers.

Acting Inspector Keane said having a highly visible police presence on the roads was also about educating people about the road rules.

Police rewarded law-abiding motorists with free coffee cards, redeemable at a national coffee chain.

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