Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

Distracted drivers still a problem

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Western Bay road policing Sergeant Wayne Hunter monitoring traffic speeds. Photo/file
Western Bay road policing Sergeant Wayne Hunter monitoring traffic speeds. Photo/file

More than 30 Tauranga drivers have been caught by police using a cellphone while driving or not wearing seat belt in the first four days of a national campaign for safer roads.

Western Bay of Plenty road policing Sergeant Wayne Hunter said at least 23 people were fined for not wearing a seat belt and 9 people were caught using a phone while driving by the end of Thursday night.

New Zealand Police began a nation-wide crackdown on distracted drivers this week. The campaign will continue until August 7.

Mr Hunter said the amount of tickets issued over the four days was fairly standard.

''Use of cell phones is a major distraction and on many occasions I have
personally seen drivers texting and almost colliding with a car stationary at lights.''

Mr Hunter said the response from drivers varied.

''Most admit they know it is dangerous to use the cellphone while driving but just believe they must send or read a text at that moment rather than wait.''

''The message I would like to get out there is that it is not okay to use your cellphone for anything while driving because if you do crash it is not only you that it affects, it can be many others.''

Mr Hunter said drivers also risked being without a vehicle for some time if it had been damaged and ''all for the sake of using your cell phone''.

People caught driving on Bay roads without seat belts or while using a cellphone could expect to receive $80 to $150 fines.

Motoring advocates told the Bay of Plenty Times earlier this week they supported stiffer penalties if someone was caught texting while driving.

Caroline Perry, Brake New Zealand director, said current penalties were not enough to deter some drivers.

''We want to see tougher penalties - higher fines and more demerit points - to deter distracted driving.''


Bay fatal and serious injury crashes where cellphone use was a contributing factor


2011 - 3
2012 - 4
2013 - 1
2014 - 2
2015 - 3

- Bay of Plenty Times

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