The son of a motorist who died while texting says harsher penalties are needed to deter people from using their phones while driving.
Eliot Jessep's plea comes as new figures reveal motorists still aren't getting the message, with nearly 50 lives lost and 180,000 people fined for using their phone while driving in the past decade.
Police figures show more than $14 million in fines was issued to 180,170 people in the 10 years since it became illegal to use your phone while driving.
Provisional data from the Ministry of Transport shows 46 people died in crashes between 2009 and 2018 and 885 others were injured, 125 seriously, after drivers were distracted by cellphones.
However, despite the consequences, drivers in New Zealand continue to use their mobile phones behind the wheel.
Road policing operations manager Inspector Peter McKennie told the Herald too many people were gambling with the own lives and those of other road users.
"It is like playing a game of Russian roulette; if you keep playing you are going to lose eventually."
McKennie said using a phone while driving has become habitual for many people who openly gambled on not getting caught.
"They fail to recognise the road-safety risks because they use the phone without being involved in a crash most of the time, thinking nothing bad will happen to them, but it can happen to them and does happen to people just like them with tragic outcomes."
For Eliot the end result was heartbreaking.
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His mother Paula died three days before Christmas in 2011 and in an inquest into her death a police officer revealed he picked up her phone and found a half-written text message on it.
Eliot told the Herald he was disappointed people still weren't getting the message and he is pleading for change.
"It's pretty simple, just don't do it, there is no reason why you should have your phone out while you're driving."
He believed penalties should be toughened for drivers caught using their phones.
"I definitely support higher fines. I think $80 for the average Kiwi, you can pay that and it won't put too much of a dent into your average life," Eliot said.
"We don't need to be just looking at fines, we need to be looking at different ways to enforce those fines as well."
Tougher penalties for drivers caught on their phones is something backed by the director of road safety charity Brake New Zealand.
"It's really disappointing to see that people are still using mobile phones when behind the wheel when it is a significant distraction," Caroline Perry said.
"We'd like to see some harsher penalties because it is an increasing problem, and fines and demerit points don't deter everybody.
"There's currently not one single solution which is going to fix everything ... but increasing [fines and demerits] would be a bigger deterrent."
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Automobile Association said police enforcement wasn't going to stop people from using phones on its own.
An AA road safety spokesperson told the Herald the power instead lay in the hands of the person driving "to make the smart choice and leave their phone alone".
"There's a lot of people out there who won't drink if they are going to be driving and would never drive without wearing a seatbelt, but then they're willing to use their phone behind the wheel.
"What that indicates to the AA is that a lot of drivers still don't really see using their phone as that risky, so we're going to have to find ways to convince them of the dangers so they change their behaviour themselves."
The most phone offences recorded between November 2009, when the law was introduced, and March 2019, was in 2016 when 28,901 fines were issued for a total of $2,175,120.
Meanwhile, in the first three months of this year 7025 fines had already been recorded, an increase from the same period a year earlier.