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Motorists revolt against smartphone-using drivers

Victoria Police is considering setting up a hotline for dobbing in drivers breaking mobile phone laws.

Mobile phone road rage is breaking out as some drivers photograph others texting and talking and order them to stop.

And Victoria Police is considering setting up a hotline for dobbing in drivers breaking mobile phone laws, rating the devices as the most dangerous distraction behind the wheel.

Smartphone-obsessed motorists have been seen driving erratically and stalling traffic at traffic lights. NewsCorp Australia has witnessed five instances in which frustrated drivers or cyclists have admonished others.

One cyclist screamed at a young female motorist through the driver's window at lights in South Melbourne, leading to a confrontation. Another driver pulled up next to a middle-aged driver using his phone on the Eastern Freeway, lowering his window and beeping his horn to get the man's attention. He then tailed the driver up the freeway, blasting the horn repeatedly.

Inspector Simon Humphrey, of the Road Policing Command, said citizens were reporting law-breakers to police, sending in photos and videos, and posting on YouTube, leading to some charges. But he warned motorists against getting involved in disputes on the road or capturing vision while behind the wheel.

Tougher fines of $443 and four demerit points for using a mobile phone at the wheel were introduced in November 2013. More than 44,000 drivers were fined for using a mobile phone last financial year, down from 58,789 in 2012-13.

We have considered things like the hotline … but we don't want people going around like vigilantes

"We are heartened that the public are recognising the danger of distractions, but we don't advocate that they become pseudo police and intervene, as it can lead to road rage," Insp Humphrey said.

"People do feel quite strongly about driver distraction but they should concentrate on their own driving. "We have considered things like the hotline … but we don't want people going around like vigilantes. We'd rather just educate people about the dangers of distractions." He said the evidence needed to take action against a driver, based on a report from the public, was "fairly stringent".

In one incident last year, a passenger in a minibus on the South Gippsland Highway snapped a woman driver, a dog on her lap, texting.

The photos including the offender's registration details were sent to police, who identified her and slapped her with $885 in fines for three offences, and four demerit points.

Victoria Police figures show road rage is on the rise, up to 277 offences in 2013-14 from 248 the year before. The most recent figures included 167 assaults, 85 of property damage. There were also cases of harassment and of people using weapons.