ABOUT 40 motorists were caught breaking the law on outer eastern roads in just one day last week.
Last Thursday, Yarra Ranges police booked 15 drivers for using their mobile phones while driving and 11 for disobeying traffic lights. Other drivers caught were disqualified to drive or did not have a licence.
Acting Sergeant Graeme Rust, of the Yarra Ranges highway patrol, said the results were partly due to an higher police presence in the region, made possible with funding from the Transport Accident Commission.
The funding has allowed for an extra 4600 hours that police are using for covert operations targeting speeding, drink driving and mobile phone use.
Acting Sergeant Rust said Yarra Ranges was selected as it was one of the worst areas for fatalities in recent years.
"Because we've been getting good results for our operations, we've been targeted to continue our enforcement methods," he said.
"It's keeping us busy, but we really shouldn't be catching as much as we've got."
Thursday's activity formed part of Operation Watchful, launched last month. On October 23, 50 drivers were caught over just six hours on Main Street, Lilydale.
Acting Sergeant Rust said the number of drivers using their mobile phones while driving was a worry. He said officers got "a lot of lame excuses" when drivers were caught with their phones. "Maybe you reach for it as a natural reaction — if so, you should turn it off to eliminate the temptation to pick it up."
Another police operation codenamed Osbourne was also launched in October.
The target was drink-drivers leaving hotels throughout the area. Police will continue running such operations leading into the Christmas break and into the new year.
Patrols will be out on roads such as Belgrave-Hallam Road, Belgrave South; Main Street, Lilydale; Lysterfield Road, Lysterfield; Hull Road, Mooroolbark; Maroondah Highway, Chirnside Park; Maroondah Highway, Healesville; Anderson Street, Lilydale; Belgrave-Gembrook Road, Selby/Menzies Creek; Canterbury Road, Montrose; Warburton Highway, between Wandin and Yarra Junction; and Melba Highway.