We're with Transport Minister Phil Twyford on beefing up the punishment for texting and driving – but only to a point.

He's right, the present $80 instant fine is not enough. Texting while driving kills. Last year 40 people died in accidents classed as being caused by a distraction. Anecdotally many of those were caused by texters.

You can be fined that much for overstaying your parking in some places. That unfriendly city not far from here will sting you $40.

So yes, fines that really hammer home the seriousness of the offence ought to be meted out - $400, as in Australia for example, even $1200 is reasonable.


Now let's talk about cars.

You know the ones with digital screens, maps, entertainment systems, dashboards with lots of buttons and gauges, and all of which take a driver's eye off the road ahead to interact with. Those, apparently, are fine.

It gets worse.

Some of the new electric vehicles – not the self-driving ones and not all models – but the ones with a large electronic tablet in the centre of the console where basically all the controls are now a series of web pages with check boxes, sliders and options to choose – exactly how can these not be a distraction? How do you cope without a co-pilot?

The same argument could be made about any vehicle from any era – all have a knob somewhere that you shouldn't fiddle with while driving. But are we really expecting drivers not to look at the map on their satnav – or to see the name of the song playing on the radio?

Yes texting will take your eyes off the road and it's a serious offence. But the irony of getting a ticket while sitting inside a perfectly legal bonanza of distractions is an anathema.

The Government's look into texting and driving needs to be far more than a money grab. A commitment to genuine policing and enforcement, and some decently funded public education need also be part of the package.

But so ought the designs of some of the vehicles we allow into our country and onto our roads.