Matt Greenop on motoring

Matt Greenop is editor of Driven magazine

Matt Greenop: Hard message on texts

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Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Texting and driving. Not a clever thing to do, we all know that. Earlier this week we ran a story about a very innovative anti-texting campaign put together by Volkswagen.

It uses a very interesting technique to get the attention of a theatre full of people -- and really underlined the dangers of faffing around with mobile phones while at the wheel. I'm not going to spoil the punchline here, so if you haven't already seen it, go and check it out on nzherald.co.nz/driven.

New Zealand has traditionally done a nice line in road-safety advertisements, often with a spattering of gore, generally with people we're meant to relate to. It's quite debatable what sort of effect these shock campaigns actually have on the topics they're tackling, whether it is speeding, boozing, even eating too many ghost chips. But whether you believe in the value of these campaigns or not, the text driving thing is just common sense -- and you'd think we'd have all figured it out by now.

Staggeringly, we're getting worse -- or the police are putting more effort into stopping texters and talkers. More than 1100 drivers were ticketed each month on average last year. In 2010 it was just 684.

When the Herald snappers stalked motorway drivers from an overbridge last month, nearly 50 people were caught in an hour.

Yes, the humble SMS has gone from being something teens did way too much to a part of everyone's daily lives. But as anyone who has done it knows, it's a big risk.

Every text message is a huge gamble -- think about the last time you tapped out a text on the move and how little control you really had over your car. Add the extra effort to hide the fact they're using their phones, and it's one hell of a distraction. And they're not fooling anyone.

What's the answer? Bigger penalties are the obvious -- with 2010 being the centre of campaigns to stop people texting, and that number dwarfed by the volume last year, it obviously needs some ads -- like that clever VW spot. It seems we do listen, at least sometimes.

What are your thoughts on the text/drive drama? Let us know on belwo or on facebook.com/DrivenNZ

For more car news go to nzherald.co.nz/driven

- NZ Herald

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