Illegal Phone Use Doubles Over Decade, Penalties Increased: Vic Photo:
Mike Stevens | Feb, 10 2014 | 3 Comments

A survey late last year 946 Victorian motorists found that 63 percent of the respondents had used a hand-held mobile phone while driving in the previous month - up from 32 percent in 2004.

The rise, according to Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission, can be attributed in part to the increase in mobile-focused online services over the past decade, growing beyond SMS texting to include social media and enriched internet browsing functions.

The survey results showed that more than one-in-10 read text messages while driving, while six percent admitted to composing texts at the wheel.

Some 82 percent of respondents agreed the use of hand-held devices while driving is dangerous, with the majority of those being female.

Unsurprisingly, older age groups (40+) considered mobile phone use and distractions in general more dangerous than younger drivers (18-39)

Late in 2013, the Victorian Government raised the penalty for illegal mobile phone use while driving to a fine of $433 (up from $289) and the loss of four demerit points.

As yet, no new data has been released to show what, if any, impact the harsher penalties have had on motorist behaviours or the number of fines issued.

MORE: Warnings Against Phone Use While Driving "Too Extreme"

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