Don't SMS and drive

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NSW Police warn that motorists caught reading SMS while driving will be booked, after a new survey revealed that more than half of Australian motorists under 30 could be reading SMSs while driving.

A NSW Police spokesperson told iTnews that use of mobile phones while driving carried a three demerit point penalty and a fine. According to the Roads and Traffic Authority, NSW website, this will be increased by one demerit point if the offence occurs during the holiday long weekend.

"[Motorists] will be booked if they're caught," the police spokesperson said.

Released today, Telstra's '2004 Drive Safe Phone Safe' survey revealed that in the 17-29 age group 58 percent of respondents regularly read SMS messages, and 37 percent sent SMS, while driving.

Overall, the research found that more than a quarter of those surveyed read SMS messages while driving.

Jenny Young, head of consumer marketing at Telstra, said the research had also found that 58 percent of motorists surveyed who were 17-29 years had looked down at their mobile phones to read SMS messages while they were driving.

"It shows a disproportionate number of younger drivers ignore their better judgement -- and the law -- and SMS while driving, despite knowing they risk the safety of themselves and others," said Young.

The research also found that one in three drivers surveyed had made mobile phone calls while they were driving at least once a week, and more than half of respondents regularly answered their phone if it rang while they were in the car.

750 mobile phone users in five states were interviewed for the survey, according to a statement.

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