Tauranga and Western Bay drivers are putting their lives at risk every day by using their phones while behind the wheel.

In yesterday's Bay of Plenty Times, we revealed the number of people ticketed for using their phones while driving has increased annually in six of the last seven years for which we had data.

In 2016, 717 people in the Western Bay of Plenty were caught using their phones while driving.

That's a huge number, especially when you consider the number of people that would have broken the law and got away with it.


It's a common occurrence to see people texting or making a call while driving - and it's always very noticeable.

Those breaking the law in this way try to hide it by holding their phone down below the window, an obvious ploy.

As if the rest of us can't see your head bobbing up and down!

You might have got away with that in the old days when cellphones had buttons and savvy texters could touch-type without looking at the screen, but that is a much harder feat with touchscreen smartphones.

Just the other day, I was driving home from work and was following behind a white van.

The driver had been happily plodding away near the speed limit and, for all intents and purposes, seemed like a perfectly capable driver - until he reached for his phone.

Looking at his reflection in his rear-vision mirror, I could see him looking up and down at something in the vicinity of his lap.

His speed picked up, the car inched closer towards the centre line.

I started to panic when the front right tyre crossed the line and kept going as a car came towards us.

I let the gap between us widen further and was ready to toot my horn when, suddenly, the van veered sharply to the left.

Phew. He caught himself just in time.

Unfortunately, this is something that happens every day and the people committing the crime likely don't even realise how badly they are driving while they are looking at their phone.

They probably think they can have a quick glance perfectly safely, not realising they are weaving all over the road and narrowly missing obstacles.

They are crashes waiting to happen and it is sheer luck that these people have made it out unscathed thus far.

There are others that haven't been so lucky.

Is that text message really worth putting yours and others' lives in danger?