According to the New Zealand Transport Agency, texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers focused on the road.
Phones and other distractions killed 22 people in 2014, with a further 191 people suffering serious injuries.
While youngsters are typically typecast as the texting generation, the worst offenders were those aged 30 to 39. But they are not alone all age groups showed significant results.
Given the significance of the consequences at National Advanced Drivers School we think current NZ penalties are an inadequate deterant to changing behavior. Instead of the current penalty of an $80 fine and 20 demerit points, we would like to see similar penalties to those in Australia.
Australia penalties for using a hand held mobile phone whilst driving are a $400 fine and 3 demerit points.
Increasingly at our Defensive Driver courses we have participants whose organisations have adopted a MOMO driving policy.
We applaud this stand in helping their employees make good decisions whilst driving by removing distractions.
Ban on mobile phone use while driving
From 1 November 2009 it became illegal for drivers to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. The Road User Rule states that drivers cannot use a mobile phone:
- to make, receive, or terminate a telephone call
- to create, send, or read a text message or email
- to create, send, or view a video message
- to communicate in a similar way
- in any other way.
Breaching the ban incurs an $80 fine and 20 demerit points.
The ban includes other telecommunications devices such as Blackberrys and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) but excludes two-way radios. However, a driver may, while driving a vehicle, use a mobile phone in a way described in 1 and 5 above provided the mobile phone:
- does not require the driver to hold or physically manipulate it to make, receive, or terminate the call (e.g. Blue Tooth technology)
- is secured in a mounting fixed to the vehicle and the driver manipulates the phone infrequently and briefly (e.g. hands-free kits)
In addition, the Rule exempts drivers who make a 111 or *555 call provided it is unsafe or impracticable for the driver to stop and park the vehicle to make the call; or if the vehicle has stopped for a reason other than the normal starting and stopping of vehicles in a flow of traffic.