Australia's New South Wales State Transport Minister Carl Scully will increase penalties for motorists caught using mobile phones while driving, after overseas studies indicated the activity is more dangerous than drinking while driving. When the new penalties take effect on July 1, the fine for using a cell phone while driving will increase 95 percent.
New South Wales will also become the second Australian state to impose a license penalty for the offence, deducting three driver merit points. Studies conducted by a United Kingdom motor insurer indicate that drivers using the mobile phones while traveling at 110 km/h have their reaction time slowed by 50 percent; that's 30 percent more than a driver with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08. The RTA said it has no way of determining how many driving accidents are caused by mobile phone use, but according to studies carried out by Queensland academics drivers who use mobile phones on the road are four-times more likely to have an accident.
ZDNet Australia's Andrew Colley reported from Sydney.
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