If you are in the habit of talking on the phone while driving and not putting your seatbelt on, it could be an expensive week if police spot you.

Hundreds of drivers across Northland can expect to be stopped by police as part of nationwide Operation Habit, which is focused on seatbelt compliance and driver distractions, in particular cellphone use.

The operation started last Monday and finishes on Sunday.

Northland's chief traffic officer, Inspector Wayne Ewers, said police staff were expecting to visit all communities in the region and planned to use a variety of tactics to ensure drivers and their passengers were buckled up and drivers had put their cellphones away for the journey. "Operation habit is about influencing safer behaviour in the car. We want everyone to get into the habit of putting their seatbelt on and their mobile phone away," Mr Ewers said.


He said driver distraction was a serious road safety issue and driving required complete attention.

Drivers who are stopped by police while using a cellphone can expect an $80 fine and 20 demerit points. A total of 100 demerit points in two years will result in a driver's licence being suspended for three months.

During January to March 2016, 41 per cent of vehicle occupants killed in road crashes were unrestrained at the time of the crash. This translates to 28 people whose deaths may have otherwise been prevented, hence a strong component of the operation will be seatbelt compliance. The report on the first quarter of the year also highlighted high rates of non-compliance with the law making it illegal to text or use a mobile phone while driving.

Mr Ewers said eight fatalities on Northland's roads last year may have been prevented if the drivers or passengers had been wearing seatbelts.

Nationally from 2012 to 2014 there were on average about 57 deaths annually as a result of not buckling up. In 2015 the figure jumped to 92 deaths.

"It only takes two seconds to buckle up which could save your life in a crash," Mr Ewers said.

"Wearing a seatbelt reduces your chance of death or serious injury in a crash by about 50 per cent."

Mr Ewers said at a checkpoint last Friday on Kamo Rd, about 3pm, one of the first vehicles pulled over saw the driver get tickets for no warrant, no registration and failing to wear a seatbelt. However, the rest appeared to be compliant which was "pleasing and positive", Mr Ewers said.