Whanganui Police are disappointed in the number of drivers using their phones while driving through a checkpoint.

The operation, conducted by the Whanganui Police Road Policing Group supported by officers from other departments, took place on June 17 on Great North Rd in Otamatea.

Over a two-hour period, eight people were observed using their phones.

Sergeant Colin Wright said drivers were seen making calls, texting and using other apps on their phones which they believed was okay.

Advertisement

One driver said they were looking at their maps on the phone while it was in their hand, Wright said.

Police have carried out similar checkpoints in the past and, although they could not compare numbers, were disappointed to see how many people were using their phones in such a short period of time, Wright said.

Under the Land Transport Road User Rule 2004, using a mobile phone while driving is banned and carries an $80 infringement and 20 demerits on a licence.

Demerits last for two years and drivers who reach 100 demerits will lose their licence for three months.

Sergeant Colin Wright would like all drivers to consider the importance of using their phones while driving compared to other people's safety. Photo / File
Sergeant Colin Wright would like all drivers to consider the importance of using their phones while driving compared to other people's safety. Photo / File

Wright said Whanganui Police have operations coming up which will again focus on cellphone and seatbelt offences.

During the checkpoint, officers also issued five seatbelt tickets and 15 other tickets relating to vehicle condition, registration and driver licence offences.

"It's not about issuing tickets, it's about educating people not to use their cellphones," Wright said.

"We would rather people didn't use it at all, even with Bluetooth, because you're still distracted. However, legally as long as your phone is fixed in a bracket or out of sight you can use Bluetooth hands-free to make calls but you can't text, and you can't use a phone in hand while driving to take photos, navigation or to make phone calls."

Advertisement

He said he spotted one person on their phone while driving who drove over the centre line outside the car park near Virginia Lake. This could have led to a "horrible scenario" as a lot of people were crossing the road and cars were travelling from all directions.

"It poses the question of how important is that text or how important is what you're doing in comparison to other people's lives or safety."