The Government of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia has started penalising motorists for using mobile phones while driving.

The authorities will use mobile phone detection cameras, which have been operating in warning mode since 1 December last year, to spot such motorists.

Violations will lead to a fine of A$344 ($225.23) and five demerit points.

NSW Minister for Regional Roads Paul Toole said: “The decision to pick up your phone can have fatal consequences. Whether you’re driving on a major highway or an isolated road in the bush, there’s no excuse for using your phone illegally.

“The cameras are both fixed and transportable, with the trailer-mounted cameras to be frequently moved around the state, targeting illegal mobile phone use anywhere, anytime.”

During the warning period, the mobile phone detection cameras checked nine million vehicles. More than 30,000 warning letters were issued to the violators during the three months.

NSW Minister for Roads Andrew Constance said: “We’re seeing more than 99% of drivers doing the right thing, so when we compare this with the findings from the pilot last year, it is clear drivers are starting to get the message. Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

“As fines and demerits start to be issued from today, we expect the number of offences could fall even further, making NSW roads safer for everyone.”

By 2023, the mobile phone detection camera programme is expected to carry out 135 million vehicle checks on state roads each year.

Recently, Transport for NSW contracted Fulton Hogan Construction for the design and construction of the four-lane Nowra Bridge project.