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Phone habits hard to break

UP to midnight last Sunday, 143 WA motorists had been charged under a new law banning the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving.

The new law came into effect on July 1.

Of those, 87 were charged in July and 56 were booked in August.

A WA Police Service spokesman said it was hard to read anything into the charge figures because the new law had only been in place for two months.

“If anything we were probably giving motorists more leeway in July and issuing more cautions,” he said.

Motorists charged under the new law face a $100 fine and the loss of one demerit point.

Drivers can only use a hand-held mobile phone if they are parked in a designated parking space.

WA was the last State to introduce a law banning the use of a hand-held mobile phone while driving. Such laws have been in operation in Victoria and New South Wales for more than 10 years.

Retailers have reported an increased demand for mobile phone hands-free kits that began just before the law came in and has held steady for the past two months.

Research has shown that using a hand-held mobile phone while driving increases the risk of being involved in a fatal crash by between four and nine times.

Other studies have shown a driver’s braking reaction time is increased by about half a second.

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