Police to target cellphone users

Last updated 08:37 22/11/2012

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Whangarei Leader

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Driver using cellphones while at the wheel will be targeted in a week long police ''blitz''.

The ''blitz'', which starts on Monday November 26, is part of a week-long nationwide police campaign to remind motorists of the legislation banning mobile phone use while driving.

The legislation was introduced three years ago.Since then Northland Police have issued 361 infringement notices to drivers who have ignored the ban.

Drivers breaking the law face an $80 fine and 20 demerit points.

Although the legislation allows the use of hands-free mobile phones, police recommend 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 (for example phone is completely voice activated)

• 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.

Northland road policing manager Inspector Murray Hodson says the campaign aims to draw drivers' attention to the potentially life-threatening behaviour of using cellphones while driving.

''We will be out in force and all drivers detected using cellphones while driving will be stopped and action taken.

''Mr Hodson says research has indicated that use of cellphones while driving increases the chances of having a crash.During the ''blitz'', which finishes on Sunday December 2, police will also be checking to make sure all vehicle occupants are wearing seat belts.

Mr Hodson says there are still a large number of drivers and passengers that don't wear seatbelts or ensure that children are correctly restrained in vehicles.

Northland also has one of the lowest compliance rates when it comes to use of seatbelts.

''Northland's road toll currently stands at 14, double the number of deaths our roads last year, and we don't want to see any more people die or get seriously injured.

''Mr Hodson says with the summer holidays coming up, the roads will be getting busier and drivers need to make sure they drive safely.

''That includes not using cellphones, making sure everyone is wearing seat belts, sticking to the speed limit, driving to the conditions and not drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a car.''

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