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Half still ignore text-and-drive ban

Last updated 12:00 07/02/2014

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Almost half the country's motorists think they can get away with using mobile phones while driving.

Talking and texting while behind the wheel has been illegal since November 2009, but Ministry of Transport research has revealed drivers still have little fear of getting caught.

The ministry's annual Public Attitudes to Road Safety Survey for 2013 found 47 per cent of the 1670 people interviewed thought it was unlikely they would be pinged for using a hand-held phone while driving.

It comes after Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse said recently too many people were flouting the law and needlessly putting themselves and others in danger.

"Using a cellphone while driving may seem a minor offence, on the face of it, but for some New Zealanders it will be the difference between a long life or an early death." He was not available for comment yesterday but a spokesman said the Government still stood by that view.

In June, a separate ministry study monitored 29,000 drivers across the country and found one in every 40 used a mobile while driving. When their cars were stuck in traffic, that number increased to one in 20.

Automobile Association spokesman Mike Noon said current attitudes were concerning, but not surprising.

"We want people thinking that using cellphones while driving is putting people at significant risk. But at the moment, the only thing people are thinking about is getting pinged," he said.

Fairfax NZ

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- Manawatu Standard

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