Police in Whanganui are cracking down on distracted and unrestrained motorists, organising a number of operations over the coming months to target unsafe habits on our roads.
The Chronicle was invited to one of the operations yesterday, which saw a number of motorists pulled over and fined for not wearing seatbelts and using mobile phones while behind the wheel.
The operation was one of a number of similar targeted events Whanganui police have focused on in recent months, and involved a number of officers at various positions along State Highway 3.
The man at the centre of the operation was Sergeant Colin Wright - the officer in charge of road policing in Whanganui.
Wright was dressed in plain clothes and from an elevated position on the side of the road radioing in the details of offending vehicles for other officers to pull over from their position 200 metres further down the road.
"You can see quite a lot from up here," Wright said, while looking down on the road below.
The operation on Wednesday was solely focused on enforcement rather than education.
Wright said this was simply because of the sheer number of distracted drivers police have spotted on the roads.
"It's not about education. The seatbelt law and cellphone law have been in for years now. This is about enforcement and getting the message out.
"Visible policing is an education prevention method, but enforcement goes along with that too."
During the operation, Wright radioed to his team about a large number of drivers either using their phone in their hand or balanced on their knee or seat next to them.
Under the Land Transport Act, motorists are permitted to use their phone or in-car technology such as a touch-screen head unit as long as it is fixed to the vehicle, but handheld phones are not permitted.
"If you've got Bluetooth, or you've got a phone fixed in a cradle, you can still make phone calls. We have a lot of people who pick up their phone and change their music, or they're looking at a map and they don't realise that's still using their phone.
"But quickly using your phone while fixed is not ideal, and the preference is that you stop and sort it."
Wright said the operation, which coincided with New Zealand Road Safety Week, was about ensuring Whanganui's roads were kept safe.
"The reality is that it's simply unsafe to drive distracted by a phone or unrestrained in your seat.
"A great day for us would be where we can come out here and not issue any infringement notices. But right now, there are people who clearly haven't got the message."