Warning: Drivers using mobile phones at traffic lights, you’re being watched.
Police targeted mobile phone use on Wednesday in a state-wide one-day operation, which also drilled down on not keeping left and vehicle road-worthiness.
A particular area police kept a close eye was traffic lights, where police on foot and on motorcycles dodging through traffic combined to spot drivers with heads down on their phones.
To show how serious they were about the issue, police swooped on the busy Glebe and City Road intersection in Newcastle and pulled over eight cars in one go.
More than 1,200 people were fined for mobile phone use across the state.
Hunter Highway Patrol cluster supervisor Senior Sergeant Tony Grace said while it may not be as dangerous as using a phone while the car was in motion, there was a reason mobile phone use was not permitted at all on the road.
“It’s still a distraction,” he said. “People don’t stop using there phone when the light is green.
“There wouldn’t be a person that hasn’t been stuck at a set of traffic lights for 10-15 seconds after the light goes green because the person in front has their head down.
Sergeant Grace said the problem was not a new one, but had changed with advances in technology.
“20 years ago you’d see people with their phone to their ear, now they’re watching videos, texting and emailing,” he said.
Sergeant Grace said there were studies that showed the danger of mobile phone use was akin to drink driving.
“It’s a huge problem,” he said. “You’ve got to be aware when you’re behind the wheel.”
Police target mobile phone use year-round, with five more days of Operation Compliance to come.