Batemans Bay Highway Patrol officers caught 20 drivers using their mobile phones this week during a state-wide crackdown.
Operation Compliance Three targeted motorists using hand-held mobile phones and Learner and P-plate drivers on Wednesday.
Twenty-one people were caught using mobile phones while driving in the Far South Coast local area command – one in Bega and 20 on Beach Road in Batemans Bay.
A 25-year-old green P-plater from Batemans Bay was busted using her mobile phone on Beach Road, while her seven-month-old baby was in the back seat.
A 17-year-old Batemans Bay red P-plater was caught texting while driving, and a 40-year-old Ulladulla woman was seen on the phone and writing notes on a piece of paper while driving.
Meanwhile, a Batemans Bay tradesman in his 40s was caught using his mobile phone for the second time in three months.
A 36-year-old ACT man was caught using his phone, and police also discovered his licence had been suspended in April last year.
Batemans Bay Highway Patrol Sergeant Angus Duncombe said catching 20 people in one day was concerning, as the command ranked first with the highest number of offences in the southern region, which emcompasses Griffith, Wollongong and Goulburn.
Within the region, 66 people were caught using mobile phones.
“I think the figures speak for themselves,” he said.
“We have an issue.
“We’re going to be on the front foot with this.”
He said catching drivers using their mobiles involved placing officers in plain clothes or in unmarked vehicles to spot them, and radioing more officers down the road to intercept the offenders.
He said the target areas were Beach Road and the Kings and Princes Highways intersection on Wednesday.
Sgt Duncombe warned drivers that the offence wasn’t just talking on the phone while driving.
“Talking, texting, listening to voicemail . . . even having it in your hand to look at the clock is using it,” he said.
Using a phone while driving carries a $298 fine and a loss of three demerit points.
The majority of people caught were also using smart phones, Mr Duncombe said, and some people “thought they were hard-done by”.
“But we indicated to them it’s a state-wide operation and being distracted by using mobile phones does have an impact in crashes,” he said.
“There have been cases where a fatality has occurred while a driver was being distracted by using a mobile phone.
“Don’t die for a phone call.”