James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Police warn of text-driving danger

Caution follows a number of accidents linked to the use of cellphones while driving
Waikato police are sounding the alarm  after two crashes involving cellphones this week.
Waikato police are sounding the alarm after two crashes involving cellphones this week.

A mother who was driving with her 3-year-old child in the back was reading a text message before she lost control of the vehicle, which flipped and crashed into a ditch on Monday.

The following day, a man was believed to have been texting when he ploughed into the rear of a car parked on the side of the road.

Waikato police are urging motorists to ensure they keep their eyes on the road after the incidents.

Yesterday Sergeant Geoff Blow of the Hamilton road safety team said Monday's crash happened on a rural road east of the city.

"Fortunately for all concerned the child was strapped into a good-quality carseat and both occupants escaped serious injury. When spoken to at the scene the mother admitted she was reading a text just prior to the crash."

Mr Blow said Tuesday's incident happened on State Highway 1 between Hamilton and Cambridge. He said a driver had pulled over to the roadside to check why his car's Bluetooth device had stopped working.

While he was stationary a man, who police believe was texting at the time, failed to notice the stationary vehicle on the side of the road and ploughed into the rear of it.

The driver who crashed was taken to Waikato Hospital with minor injuries while the stationary driver was left shaken but uninjured.

Last year driver fatigue and distraction were considered contributing factors in 10 of the 22 fatal crashes on Waikato roads.

The latest incidents come less than a fortnight after Tauranga mother of two Tracey O'Brien, 26, died in a crash on State Highway 2 at Te Puna, near Tauranga.

Police told the Herald preliminary indications were that Ms O'Brien might have been texting at the time of the crash, in which her two young children were seriously injured.


Texting hazard

A Ministry of Transport survey of 29,000 moving vehicles published last year spotted:

• One in every 40 drivers using a cellphone.

• Half of those had a phone to their head and the other half appeared to be texting.

• When vehicles were stationary in a queue, the number of drivers using a cellphone increased to one in every 20 vehicles and most of the drivers were texting.

- NZ Herald

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