Some drivers still don't get the message.
Some drivers still don't get the message. monkeybusinessimages

New penalty for mobile morons just in time for Christmas

THE silly season is upon us, but there's nothing funny about being unsafe on our roads.

Police have begun ramping up patrols and placing heftier fines for breaking the law, warning residents to be smart while driving as Christmas draws near.

As of last Friday, motorists caught using a mobile phone while behind the wheel face a $391 fine as well as costing three demerit points, and those caught for a second time within 12 months of the first offence will cop double-demerits.

Bundaberg Road Policing Unit officer-in-charge Sergeant Johnathan Sitkiewicz said, if possible, mobile phones should be connected via bluetooth or in a cradle so there's no temptation to have the device in your hands.

"Mostly, police prefer that you don't touch your phone or look at you phone at all while you're driving, but some hand-held devices can assist you while you're driving to make it safer," Sgt Sitkiewicz said.

An increased police presence will also focus on speed as well as drink and drug driving, with random breath and drug tests occurring more frequently.

Sgt Sitkiewicz said there will be a lot of enforcement on highways and major roads "so make sure you keep your speed at the speed limit".

"We've got drug testing coming on board now so coming into the Christmas period... It's not just the standard random breath testing," he said.

"Officers have the ability to drug test drivers... and that also comes with similar penalties as drink-driving such as losing your license, and fines and penalty from the court system.

"There'll be a lot of speed cameras out on the road as well, especially on those major roads."

He said drivers should be mindful of fatigue as more motorists are doing long trips during the holiday period.

"Tired driving is a big one at the moment, everyone's doing long hours on the road," he said.

"Whether they're going up the coast or down the coast, make sure they take their regular breaks and rest periods."

He said motorists should have their car serviced properly before hitting the roads, ensuring tyres are in good condition, brakes are working and the car is ready for bigger drives.

Do your part to make this Christmas period a safe one for the Bundaberg community by adhering to driving laws and being conscious of the Fatal Five.

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