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Oz cops call up phone records after car smashes

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Australian cops have confirmed they examine the mobile phone call activity of drivers involved in killer car crashes.

New South Wales traffic police this week told Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper that they have nabbed 1300 more motorists for using a handset while driving during the first six months of 2008 than they did in the same period in 2007.

They said that the use of a phone without a handsfree kit is now the prime suspect in crashes believed to be caused by one or more motorists not driving with due care and attention.

If a fatality is involved, police will now automatically call up phone activity records and transcripts to see whether any of the drivers involved were talking at the time of the accident.

Whether those records indicate the use of a Bluetooth headset - showing a driver was calling legally - is not known.

That said, the paper cited Monash University Accident Research Centre fellow Kristie Young as claiming that using a handsfree kit was just as dangerous as not doing so.

More than 19,500 drivers were caught using handsets in the first half of the year in New South Wales.

Still, during that same period there were only 180 fatalities on the state's roads, 49 less than the previous year and the lowest half-year tally since 1936.

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