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

Woman caught driving with knees while on phone

STAYING FOCUSSED: Head of Western Bay of Plenty road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Campion warns that distracted drivers are dangerous drivers.PHOTO/FILE
STAYING FOCUSSED: Head of Western Bay of Plenty road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Campion warns that distracted drivers are dangerous drivers.PHOTO/FILE

A woman driving a car while on her cellphone, combing her hair and steering the wheel with her knees is one of more than 20 people fined on one of the Western Bay of Plenty's worst blackspots.

Police held an operation targeting distracted drivers on State Highway 2 at Bethlehem yesterday morning.

I think people have become so attached to mobile devices, taking one from them is a bit like cutting the umbilical cord.
Senior Sergeant Ian Campion

Head of Western Bay of Plenty road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Campion said the team issued 23 tickets, eight for not wearing a seat belt and 15 for driving while distracted.

"This includes a woman steering with her knees while she used the cellphone and combed her hair," Mr Campion said.

Police targeted distractions such as people on the cellphones, eating their breakfast, fixing their hair, putting on make-up, even "reading the newspaper or other such things", he said.

Mr Campion said the woman did not offer an excuse but denied being on her cellphone.

He said the operation was held in an effort to make the stretch of highway safer.

Last year alone, at least eight people were killed in crashes on SH2 between Omokoroa and Bethlehem.

 Traffic heading towards Bethlehem from Tauranga. Photo/file
Traffic heading towards Bethlehem from Tauranga. Photo/file

"The reasons we target these behaviours is that they are the primary causes of fatal crashes between Bethlehem and Athenree over the past two years," Mr Campion said.

Mr Campion said people appeared to struggle to leave their mobile phones alone while driving.

"I think people have become so attached to mobile devices, taking one from them is a bit like cutting the umbilical cord. To be perfectly honest, they are just a tool. If people continue to use them, then they are contributing to the number of crashes on our roads," he said.

"Is a phone call that important that you would put your life in danger, the lives of your passengers? There would be very few people that woudn't be able to answer that with a 'no'."

Mr Campion said aside from driver distraction, sun strike was a significant factor on SH2 yesterday.

"A number of people were stopping in the middle of the road because they couldn't see where they were going. It's that time of year where then sun is in a lower arc. People do need to take extra care."

The penalty for driving while using a cellphone, without hands-free, is a $80 fine and 20 demerit points.

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