Police clamp down on drivers using cellphones

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 28/11/2012
cellphone ban
KELLY HODEL/ Fairfax NZ
CLAMP DOWN: Police will target cellphone-using drivers in a clamp down on the activity.
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South Canterbury drivers using cellphones at the wheel are being targeted in a week-long police blitz.

Ten drivers have been stopped and fined since the campaign began on Monday. It is part of a nationwide push to remind motorists of the law banning cellphone use while driving.

The legislation was introduced three years ago. Since then South Canterbury police have been averaging "one or two" infringement notices each week to drivers who have ignored the ban, Sergeant Simon Heeley says.

However, the ban is difficult to enforce.

"I wouldn't say it's a regular occurrence; it's the old story that they see you coming and it's a difficult one to target."

Mr Heeley says the number of fines issued this week indicates the message is still not getting through.

"The campaign is specifically for mobile phones; it's really just to highlight distraction."

Texting is of specific concern. "It's quite obvious when you see drivers texting."

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

While talking on hands-free devices is legal, 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 legal to use a mobile phone to make, receive or end a call when driving only 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.

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- The Timaru Herald

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