One every three minutes.

That's how many drivers in Wellington's Mt Victoria Tunnel were caught using their cellphones while driving.

Newshub settled itself in the tunnel with a police officer who, keeping a hawk-eye on traffic, reported offenders to a colleague waiting outside.

One of those caught was a chief executive of a Government department, Newshub reported.

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In the first three months of this year, police issued 7025 fines against drivers who used their phones while driving.

Provisional data from the Ministry of Transport showed 46 people died in crashes between 2009 and 2018 and 885 were injured, 125 seriously.

Meanwhile, in the near-decade since the law was put in place more than $14 million in fines was issued to 180,170 people, police figures show.

Last month, road policing operations manager Inspector Peter McKennie said too many people were gambling with their lives and those of others.

"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.

Elsewhere, more than 60 people were caught using their phones during a police operation on two Tauranga streets last year.

Five one-hour stings targeting mobile phone users were held on Turret Rd and Totara St in Mt Maunganui on each day of a working week in November.

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But one of Tauranga's top traffic cops said at the time the numbers were only a snapshot of a much wider problem.

"People don't believe it's an issue they need to take responsibility for," acting head of Western Bay of Plenty road policing Sergeant Wayne Hunter said.

"We see nose-to-tail crashes all the time. While a lot of those crashes result in minor damage, they cause a big backlog of traffic.

"It's totally selfish and irresponsible behaviour."