Coffee drinking at the wheel is among the focuses as police work on another campaign through September to help lower the road toll.

The campaign in Hawke's Bay centres on driver distractions, or "diverted attention" as it is called in Ministry of Transport publications.

While such campaigns appear to focus on cellphones, the use of which while driving is specifically banned, the Police Eastern District campaign this month cover all possible factors, including coffee in the wider risk category of "eating and drinking" at the wheel.

Road policing prevention manager Dan Foley said it would be difficult to assess the degrees to which drinking coffee while driving was a factor in road crashes, it is certainly a distraction.


He cited the multiple risks of drinking coffee at the wheel, from picking the cup from the cup holder, to drinking the coffee from a cup obscuring the view of the road, and, possibly the worst, spilling hot coffee in the lap while approaching an intersection or propelling along the highway at speed.

Diverted attention is responsible for many tragedies, figuring strongly in numbers of nose-to-tail crashes at more than twice the rate at which it figures in head-on smashes.

Reaching for other items and adjusting vehicle and radio controls are listed among the risks, as are other distractions such as dealing with pets or animals in the vehicle, smoking, being emotionally upset, rubber-necking, looking at scenery or advertising, watching or looking at other traffic, people or events, or searching or looking for a location/intersection or specific place (including the of GPS or other maps).

Foley said two checkpoints were staged in Omahu Rd this week, focusing on distractions and whether seatbelts or child restraints were being used, and similar checkpoints will be used over next few weeks.