Police crackdown on drivers using cellphones

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 07:37 26/11/2012

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Answering that important call while driving may cost you this week as police crack down on drivers using cellphones.

The nation-wide blitz from today to Sunday coincides with the third anniversary of the introduction of legislation banning mobile phone use while driving.

Tasman District Road Policing Manager Inspector Jenni Richardson said that in the year from July 2011 to June 2012 police issued 311 infringement notices to drivers using cellphones in the district.

Of those, 87 were issued in Marlborough, 27 on the West Coast and 197 were issued in the Nelson Bays area.

Both the Marlborough and the West Coast have recorded a decrease in offending, with 102 notices issued for Marlborough in the 2010-2011 year and 46 for the West Coast.

The number of notices issued in Nelson increased by more than 50, with only 146 notices issued in the 2010-2011 year.

"We are now several years down the track so there is no excuse for people still failing to comply with this legislation," Ms Richardson said.

Although the legislation allows the use of hands-free mobile phones, police say they recommend that drivers switch phones off while driving, or pull over to make or receive calls to minimise the potential for distraction.

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

People caught breaking the law are issued an infringement fee of $80 and 20 demerit points.

Police will also be checking to ensure all vehicle occupants are wearing safety belts, Ms Richardson said.

"We know that wearing seat belts continues to save lives but there are still some drivers and their passengers who just don't get it."

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- The Marlborough Express

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