Belt up message still ignored

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 06/12/2012

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A city-wide police blitz on cellphones and seatbelts has found the message to belt up is being ignored by Palmerston North drivers.

Palmerston North police turned their focus on cellphones and seatbelts in the city's 50kmh zones for the month of November in the lead-up to a national campaign with the same focus which ran for just the last week of the month.

Constable Warwick Denby said that over the course of the month, 83 people were ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt, and 11 for using a cellphone while driving.

Using a cellphone when driving results in an $80 fine and 20 demerit points, while failing to buckle up is a $150 fine.

What people didn't realise was that in a crash at a speed of 37kmh, a person's head would hit the windscreen if they weren't wearing a seatbelt, Mr Denby said.

Parents taught their kids to put a seat belt on, but then didn't set an example by doing it themselves.

There was no excuse for it, because everyone knew they needed to wear a seatbelt, and when people were in the habit of putting one on when they got in the car, it became part of the process, he said.

"It's the Kiwi attitude 'It won't happen to me', but crashes happen almost every day in Palmerston North."

As for cellphone use, that was harder to spot.

People often used their phones to text in their laps out of sight, or dropped their phones and denied having used them at all.

The focus was timed to coincide with the third anniversary of the ban on using a handheld cellphone while driving.

Although it is legal to use of hands-free mobile phones, police recommend drivers switch phones off while driving, or pull over to make or receive calls

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- Manawatu Standard

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