By 3 News online staff
Police are starting a nationwide campaign against distracted drivers, saying sending a text, updating your status or sending a tweet is not worth risking a life for.
From today, police will take extra notice of those using phones and other electronic items in a bid to crack down on drivers who don't have their full attention on the road while driving.
They're concerned about the rising number of people being caught on their phones while driving.
While under current law motorists can use hands-free phones behind the wheel, it is recommended drivers minimise potential for distraction by turning their phones off or pulling over to make or receive calls.
Last year, 'diverted attention' was noted as a contributing factor in 1053 crashes, or 12 percent of the total number, which resulted in 22 people killed and 191 serious injuries, according to Ministry of Transport data.
Police national road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally says taking your eye off the road even momentarily isn't worth the potential consequences.
"While mobile technology has increasingly allowed us all to stay connected, no text, call or social media update is so important that it's worth risking life and limb for – or those of others on the road."
Anyone caught using a phone while driving can be fined $80 and get 20 demerit points, while repeat offenders can lose their licence. Those slapped with 100 demerit points within two years get an automatic loss of licence for three months.
Police say people can turn off their phones, put them in the boot or glovebox, or give their phone to a passenger to answer any calls.