Texting, surfing the internet or talking on the phone while driving is now one of the top five causes of fatalities on NSW roads, along with speeding, fatigue and drink driving, according to road safety officials.
Marg Prendergast, general manager of the NSW Centre for Road Safety said that the use of phones while driving has overtaken people not wearing seatbelts as one of the major causes of fatal car accidents, but the difficulty of collecting conclusive data about the role of distractions meant such accidents were under-reported.
Prendergast said that the problem is that people are addicted to their phones, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
She said that the key message that people need to understand is: no phone call, no message, no song is worth risking your life or somebody else's.
Prendergast said that speeding represented 42 percent of all road fatalities, the most prevalent of all causes.
However, the government and police have no statistics on how many fatalities were caused as a result of people exceeding the speed limit; the figures cited as speeding also include motorists travelling below the speed limit.
Professor Mike Regan, applied experimental psychologist at the UNSW Transport and Road Safety Centre, has urged car manufacturers and phone designers to develop technology for the Australian market that prevents people from using their phones while driving.