TRAFFIC police in Monash have welcomed the announcement of tough new road laws aimed at tackling distracted and drug-affected drivers.
Senior Sergeant Wayne Elston at the Nunawading highway patrol said drivers were not "getting the message" with the current penalties.
"Anything that helps to lower the road toll is a good benefit," he said.
Under the new laws, drivers impaired by drug and alcohol will be slugged with a $2800 fine and have their licences cancelled for 12 months. Drivers with a blood-alcohol reading of .10 or higher will have their car impounded for 30 days and those caught using a mobile phone will cough up $400.
Senior Sergeant Elston said mobile phone usage continued to be common among drivers, especially the young.
"It's just stupidity. Using phones and texting while you're driving really should lead to a loss of licence.
"With a red P-plater, if they get caught with a phone, they lose three points. They've only got a couple more points to lose and they do their licence.
"Yet they still find it necessary to use the damn mobile phone. I think they're really addicted to it."
Drivers will now fork out $282 for using their mobile phones while driving or even when their car is stopped at a red light.
Usage can include talking, texting or taking photos.
"I don't understand how anyone can spend over $280 to send a text to somebody about nothing. If it's that important, pull over and contact the person."
The new laws come as the Coalition government releases its new road safety strategy for the next decade.
Police Minister Peter Ryan said the laws aimed to reduce death and injury by more than 30 per cent over the next 10 years.
"Meeting this target will bring the annual road toll to less than 200, saving about 80 lives a year," he said.
Senior Sergeant Elston said drivers who risked using their phones while on the road deserved the steep fines.
"If you're going to use a phone, you need to pull over in a safe place. There is no need, there is no urgency, that requires you to drive and make a call at the same time."