The figures, released by Victoria Police today, aim to reduce the number of drivers talking on mobile phones, especially commercial drivers who make up the majority number of those caught.
Fines totalling $5,882,669 and over 120,000 demerit points were accrued last year by Victorian drivers caught using mobile phones whilst driving, a number former Victoria police assistant commissioner (traffic) Ray Shuey says should be zero, especially when drivers are on the job (referring to the percentage of commercial versus private drivers booked).
"Commercial drivers are paid professionals behind the wheel of what is potentially a lethal weapon," Mr Shuey said. "If they are caught on the phone they should lose their licence altogether. It is a huge risk to life and one few take seriously until it's too late."
Mr Shuey, who now heads the Pedestrian Council of Australia, said increasing the cost of fines was unlikely to make a difference.
"It doesn't matter how much the fine is," he said. "It's the certainty of detection that will make all the difference. If you know there is a high chance of getting caught, you won't commit the offence."
39,481 Victorian motorists were caught using a mobile phone while driving last year - almost 500 more than in New South Wales.
So common is the offence, police regularly check mobile phones at major collisions to see if it was in use at the time of the smash.
"It is the most significant emerging issue in Victoria, on par with speed, fatigue and driving under the influence," said Police traffic inspector Gerry Zammit.
Being caught using a mobile phone illegally while driving in Victoria attracts 3 demerit points and a significant fine.
Source: Herald Sun