Drivers keeping off their phones

MARYANNE TWENTYMAN
Last updated 10:43 03/12/2012

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Waikato drivers are keeping off their phones while driving but a week-long blitz on cellphone use in cars found many drivers not wearing seatbelts.

The national crackdown on cellphone laws received positive feedback from around the country. In the Waikato no drivers were caught on their phones.

However Waikato police found 12 drivers who were not wearing seatbelts.

Police launched the nationwide blitz on cellphone use on November 26 to coincide with the anniversary of the introduction of legislation banning mobile phone use while driving and to remind drivers of the risk associated with distraction while driving. 

Part of the blitz, which ended at midnight Sunday, was a focus on wearing safety belts.

National road policing manager, Superintendent Carey Griffiths, said while infringement numbers would not be known for a few weeks, it was not considered a measure of the success of the campaign.

“While enforcement is a part of the equation in getting people to change their behaviour, Police don't take an increase or decrease in numbers of infringements as a success measure,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a success if we can generate an increased awareness among motorists of the dangers of these risks and get them to change their behaviour, which will translate to an overall reduction in crashes, deaths and injuries over time.

Police staff across the country reported that most people had responded positively to the campaign, with feedback from many motorists saying that they are unimpressed when they see someone using their cellphone at the wheel, and that they are pleased that Police are enforcing the rule.

“Equally, many of those who have been caught have been contrite about being ticketed and have said it was about time they were caught to stop them doing it again,” Mr Griffiths said.

“The good thing is that people seem to be taking on board the message that it’s not okay to be on the open road at 100 kph and not be giving your full attention to driving because you’re using your phone or handheld device to send a text or check an email, as nothing is that important.

He said generating widespread social unacceptance of risky behaviour that puts others at risk was a key step in making the roads safer.

Mr Griffiths said Police would still target driver distraction and other forms of risky behaviour – including those who failed to wear seatbelts or had not ensured children were safely restrained.

"It is not hard or time consuming, but can be the difference between life and death if something goes wrong,’’ Mr Griffiths said. "We want every journey to be a safer journey for every road user."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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