Christchurch Police are becoming concerned about the gradual increase in people talking and texting on their hand held cell phones over recent weeks.
"When the law changed under the Land Transport (Road User) Amendment Rule 2009 on 1 November 2009, use of hand held cell-phones basically stopped overnight in Canterbury and compliance was excellent, but lately we have been noticing a gradual increase in both talking on hand held cell-phones and texting whilst driving", says Sergeant Scott Richardson, Christchurch Strategic Traffic Unit.
"More worrying, is that some people are now trying to text covertly whilst driving by keeping their cell phones low, taking their eyes off the road as they look down to text."
Between January 2005 and October 2009 mobile phone use was identified as a contributing factor in 1,218 crashes, of which 18 were fatal crashes and 81 serious injury crashes.
Using a hand held cell phone now whilst driving incurs an $80 fine and 20 demerit points. Drivers accruing 100 demerit points in any 24 month period can lose their license for six months.
Police will be conducting operations over the next few months in an attempt to deter drivers using hand held cell phones, and urge drivers not to use their phones while driving. If the text or call is really important, safely pull over to take it.
"Considering the triviality of most text messages you have to wonder whether it is worth risking a fine and your driving licence, or potentially being involved in a serious crash", said Sergeant Richardson.