Cellphone blitz stops drivers in their tracks

Cellphone blitz stops drivers in their tracks

National News

The Police two week blitz on drivers using cellphones while driving netted 119 percent increase in offences and resulted in more than 800 notices being issued by Police.

The "blitz" was timed to coincide with the two-year anniversary of the introduction of legislation banning mobile phone use while driving.

Superintendent Paula Rose, National Manager - Road Policing says that the campaign highlighted the number of drivers who are still talking or texting on cellphones while driving.

"It's pretty disappointing really. I think drivers do understand the dangers, they just can't be bothered to put their safety and that of other road users before this one phone call. They fall back that old chestnut - 'it won't happen to me' and take the chance.

We keep on saying drivers need to consider their time behind the wheel as time when they need every faculty on full alert. Driving is a complex task and there is no room for complacency at all.

The latest Police figures show that the majority of drivers have changed their behaviour but still more than 15,000 offence notices have been issued nationwide over the last two years.

Although the rules allow the use of hands-free mobile phones, Police recommended that drivers minimise the potential for distraction by switching phones off while driving, or pulling over to make or receive calls.

It is only legal to use a mobile phone to make, receive or end a call when driving if:

• the driver does not have to hold or manipulate the phone to do so (i.e. phone is completely voice activated), or
• the mobile phone is securely mounted to the vehicle and the driver manipulates the phone infrequently and briefly.

The rule does not allow drivers to create, send, or read text messages under any circumstances.

The blitz also included a focus on safety belts and Police issued 3042 notices to drivers or their passengers for failing to wear safety belts.

"We have very high wearing rates in New Zealand and so I am very surprised to see these results," said Superintendent Rose.

"The dangers of travelling in vehicles without restraints are very well documented. Drivers and their passengers can become projectiles and there are many drivers who have been killed by their passengers flying around the inside of the car in a crash," she said.

It really is a terrible way to die and quite unnecessary. Our staff are sick of picking up the pieces from the roads where people have been thrown from vehicles and killed, when they know that such a small thing as buckling up the safety belt could have made all the difference. It is the single most effective road safety device invented and seems so obvious. "

"Wearing your safety belt and keeping your phone off when you are driving are two small and very simple things but they can make all the difference between life and death.

We want every journey to be a safer journey for every road user."

ENDS

For further information contact:

Lesley Wallis -
Communications Manager - Road Policing 04 4707111
0272209752