The case of a man who killed an elderly couple while texting as he was driving has led to renewed calls for a ban on the use of mobile phones in cars.
Robert Stonestreet, 20, was sentenced in Christchurch District Court yesterday to two charges of drink-driving causing death.
However, Judge John Bisphan said the primary cause of the crash was texting while driving.
Stonestreet, a 19-year-old dairy worker went through a stop sign on September 27 last night after a night out with friends.
He ploughed into the car of Beverley and Samuel Keating as they were returning home from their 49th wedding anniversary celebration.
At Stonestreet's sentencing yesterday Judge Bisphan suggested lawmakers consider making cellphone use while driving illegal.
AA spokesman Mike Noon said today the association would like to see fines in place for anyone caught chatting or texting.
"Using a phone while you are driving, you are four times as likely to be involved in a serious injury or fatal accident," he told Radio New Zealand.
"That is about the same level as if you were driving at the adult drink driving limit. It's a very dangerous thing to do and it's something we've got very accustomed to doing."
Insurance Council chief executive Chris Ryan said text messaging was likely responsible for more crashes than figures showed.
"It's often very difficult to prove that people have been texting or driving in a careless manner after the accident," he said.
Stonestreet's lawyer James Rapley told the court Stonestreet had been deeply affected by the incident and was finding it difficult to live with his feelings.
His normally easy going and bubbly nature had been transformed and he was now reserved and quiet.
Stonestreet was sentenced to nine months home detention, disqualified from driving for two years and six months, and ordered to do 200 hours community work.
He must also pay $10,000 to the family of the dead couple.