More Kiwis are being fined for mobile phone offences than for drink driving, according to the latest data from NZ Police.

The data shows 32,916 mobile phone offences compared to 27,751 drink driving offences from September 2015 to September 2016.

The offenders paid $2.5m for mobile phone offences in the same time period, compared to $1.7m for drink driving.

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But Superintendent Steve Greally, national manager for road policing, said the problem was much bigger than that.

"How many do we catch. We can't be really everywhere. It's a small sample."

In a classic case of 'what you measure is what you get' - offences are much higher when the police target mobile phone offences.

In Sept 2015, 4200 drivers were fined for mobile phone offences. The spike in numbers was the result of a police campaign to focus on mobile phone and seatbelt offences.

Greally said the numbers are only indicative of what's going on.

"It's largely because people don't see the risk. People who are driving doing 100km/h, we need them to take it seriously.

"If you kill a child while on a mobile phone you'll figure out that text could have waited.

"We are the adults in the room. We are the ones who have to modify our behaviour."

A lot of people think they can multi-task, but they can't. Photo / 123RF
A lot of people think they can multi-task, but they can't. Photo / 123RF
National Road Policing Manager Superintendent Steve Greally says all motorists have a role to play in lowering the road toll. Photo / John Borren
National Road Policing Manager Superintendent Steve Greally says all motorists have a role to play in lowering the road toll. Photo / John Borren

Speeding during holiday tolerance period

The driving offence data also shows speed offences doubled during holiday periods when police lowered their tolerance.

Normally police wait until a driver exceeds the speed limit by 10 km/h before issuing a ticket. But in recent years a crackdown has seen police ticket anyone driving 4 km/h over the limit during the holiday period.

In November 2015, 37,000 drivers were fined for camera-issued speeding offences.

In the following December and January - when holiday tolerance limits applied for some periods - there were 148,000 and 135,000 fines respectively.

That doesn't mean the stricter speed limits are proving ineffectual, according to Greally.

"We did the research. We got an [average] 1km/h reduction in speed.

"Unfortunately in New Zealand we have a pseudo speed limit. It's an own goal."

Even an average 1 km/h decrease in rural speed reduces fatal crashes by about 4 per cent, according to Koorey.

He said a simpler solution would be to just lower the speed limits.

"Then we don't have to worry so much about the threshold," Koorey said.

The offenders paid $2.5m for mobile phone offences in the same time period, compared to $1.7m for drink driving. Photo / Duncan Brown
The offenders paid $2.5m for mobile phone offences in the same time period, compared to $1.7m for drink driving. Photo / Duncan Brown

Sick of the carnage

Nineteen people died on New Zealand roads during the official Christmas-New Year period, with the youngest victim aged just 2.

The same number of people have also died to date in 2017, down from 23 this time last year.

Greally said the death toll made for grim reading, adding some "people just don't care enough" to change their driving habits.

"It takes one person to make a bad decision and the outcome can be tragic," he said.

Too many people were dying in circumstances that could be avoided, including not wearing a seatbelt.

More than 37,000 people were fined for not wearing a seatbelt in the first nine months of last year. In 2015, 50,000 people were caught for the same offence.

"It's beyond me," said Greally.

"Remember people make mistakes but if you make a mistake and you have your belt on, the chance of survival is so much higher."

A seatbelt reduces the risk of death risk by 50 per cent in the front seat and 75 per cent for backseat passengers.

Reducing the road toll was the responsibility of all motorists, he said.

"Don't think about 'imagine if I am caught', imagine if you aren't and you kill your mate," he said.

"The worst thing for us is not the gore. It's when we have to knock on the family's door and experience the heartbreak."