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Basmah Qazi

The simple driving mistake you don't want to make this Christmas

The simple driving mistake you don't want to make this Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, double demerit season is well on its way with the road rule initiative kicking in tonight at midnight.

And as a reminder, if you are caught breaking the law while driving during the festive period, you may end up forfeiting your licence.

It’s important to be careful and read up on the rules as a simple error can pose the risk of you losing all of your points at once.

This year, the NSW government increased the penalty for those who are caught using their mobile phone while behind the wheel. Previously drivers would be faced with four demerit points for the offence, but now it has been increased to five.

Which means, with double demerits, drivers who are spotted using their phones will lose 10 demerit points over the holiday season plus an added $337 fine.

Those driving on an NSW unrestricted licence can obtain 13 demerit points over three years before they face suspension.

And it isn’t just the use of mobile phones that is considered illegal, but also holding it in your hand, having it on your lap and placed between your shoulder and ear are all valid reasons for authorities to issue you with demerit points.

The only instance when a driver is allowed to hold a phone is if they are handing it to another passenger.

If drivers have a Bluetooth system or a phone mount on their car, it is permitted for them to play music or make and answer calls as long as they are not distracted while on the road.

NSW has the toughest laws surrounding mobile phone use compared to other states, with 42,000 fines handed out last year alone.

Insurance company NRMA has also gotten on board, with a new Christmas campaign reminding drivers to remain focused while on the road this holiday period.

Spokesperson Peter Khoury says drivers are responsible for their own and their passenger’s safety.

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“Fifteen per cent of people who use their phones illegally think they won’t get caught,” he said.

“The onus must be on all of us to put our phones away.

“At the end of the day when we measure up the safety of our loved ones with the temptation to check your Facebook feed or send a text, it’s a no-brainer.”

The only states that introduce double demerits are NSW, ACT and WA.

Double demerit points and fines for offences

Using a mobile phone behind the wheel:

New South Wales: 10 demerit points / $337 fine

Australian Capital Territory: 6 demerit points / $557 fine

Western Australia: 6 demerit points / $400 fine 

Motorcyclists caught without a helmet:

New South Wales: 6 demerit points / $337 

Australian Capital Territory: 6 demerit points / $151 fine

Western Australia: 0 demerit points / $550 

Drivers not wearing a seatbelt:

New South Wales: 6 demerit points / $330 fine 

Australian Capital Territory: 6 demerit points / $92 fine 

Western Australia: 8 demerit points / $550 fine 

Speeding over 10km/h:

New South Wales: 8 demerit points / $353 fine

Australian Capital Territory: 2 demerit points / $92 fine 

Western Australia (9km/h): 4 demerit points / $200 fine 

Speeding over 40km/h:

New South Wales: 14 demerit points / $3821 fine 

Australian Capital Territory: 8 demerit points / $693

Western Australia: 12 demerit points  $1200