Waikato drivers are keeping off their phones while driving but a week-long blitz on cellphone use in cars found many not wearing seatbelts.
The national crackdown on cellphone laws received positive feedback from around the country. In Hamilton no drivers were caught on their phones, while in the greater Waikato region 32 tickets were issued during a weeklong blitz on phone use in cars.
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 on Sunday, was a focus on wearing seatbelts. Police issued 150 infringement notices for failing to use restraints compared to 83 a week for the rest of the year.
National road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths said that while enforcement was part of the equation in getting people to change their behaviour, police did not take an increase or decrease in numbers of infringements as a success measure.
"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," he said.
Police across the country reported that most people had responded positively to the campaign, with feedback from many motorists saying that they were pleased that police were enforcing the rule on cellphone use.
"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 OK to be on the open road at 100kmh 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 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.
- Waikato Times