Nearly 300 Northland drivers have been snapped using their phone - and the new law hasn't gone down well nationally with 40 per cent of those stung not paying their fines.
Officers have issued 281 tickets in the region since the introduction of the new law banning motorists from using cellphones.
Police are planning a nationwide crackdown on people who use their cellphones while driving, after disclosing that their enforcement of the law in Auckland is far tougher than elsewhere.
The blitz is planned for November, to mark the second anniversary of when the Government banned calling or texting from the wheel with hand-held phones. Northland drivers can expect to be under close scrutiny.
Northland road police Acting Senior Sergeant Lance Goulsbro said it was a proven fact that drivers who were using cellphones were not concentrating and statistics showed some crashes could be attributed to the use of cellphones while behind the wheel.
He said drivers heeded the new law on its introduction but had become smarter about how they used a phone while driving.
"People drop the phone down on to their lap and use it there," he said.
There was no way to measure how many lives had been saved or crashes prevented with the issuing of the 281 tickets.
"It's something you can't count, but it does contribute to making the region's roads safer. Texting is definitely the worst with drivers' attention totally focused down."
Nationally, more than 14,000 infringement notices for phoning while driving were issued during the first 21 months of the ban, to the end of July this year.
The total value of the 14,131 notices amounted to $1,130,480 but only 8616 fines were paid, leaving $441,200 outstanding, of which 4771, worth $376,800, had been referred to the Ministry of Justice for collection.
Penalties for breaching the ban include 20 demerit points against driving licences, which are suspended once 100 points are accrued, as well as an $80 fine.
Detected offences were about three times higher in Auckland than throughout the rest of the country.
Police drivers remain exempt from the ban if they use mobile phones in the execution of their duties. That has concerned some motorists, including a man who was pulled over by a policewoman who appeared annoyed he had mouthed his disapproval that she was using a phone while driving.
The incident followed a coroner's finding that a Northland police officer ran over and killed a 16-year-old pedestrian 23 seconds after receiving a text message, although a search of phone records could not confirm he had opened it.