Dan­ger­ous habits re­turn

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By JOHN EDENS

Driv­ers ap­pear to be re­vert­ing to old dan­ger­ous habits gab­bing and tex­ting on cell­phones, po­lice say.

Po­lice tick­eted driv­ers with more than $2 mil­lion in fines, in­clud­ing $44,000 in the south, na­tion­ally since the Land Trans­port Road User Amend­ment rule banned the use of hand­held mo­bile phones while driv­ing, in Novem­ber 2009.

Al­most as many driv­ers were caught il­le­gally us­ing cell­phones in Queen­stown as in In­ver­cargill, since leg­is­la­tion was in­tro­duced three years ago.

South­ern dis­trict act­ing road polic­ing man­ager Steve Lark­ing said the leg­is­la­tion was not a rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing ban but fo­cused on im­prov­ing road safety.

Since 2009 there was a change in driver be­hav­iour but this had prob­a­bly waned a bit cre­at­ing a risk, he said.

‘‘We know that cell­phone use while driv­ing is dan­ger­ous. In our area in the south­ern dis­trict we have had peo­ple killed.’’

Driv­ers in In­ver­cargill paid $22,000 in fines af­ter be­ing caught il­le­gally talk­ing or tex­ting on cell­phones. Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act fig­ures re­vealed the num­ber of peo­ple caught in Queen­stown, Cen­tral Otago, South­land dis­trict and In­ver­cargill.

In Queen­stown,

212

no­tices were is­sued since 2009, gen­er­at­ing $17,000 in fines, 56 were is­sued in Cen­tral Otago, or $4480, and 279 tick­ets were is­sued in In­ver­cargill, gen­er­at­ing $22,320.

In the south­ern dis­trict, 1464 tick­ets were is­sued in three years, equiv­a­lent to $117,120.

Photo: BROOKE GAR­DINE

Lit­tle green fin­gers: Chil­dren at the Queen­stown Li­brary hol­i­day pro­gramme with the beans they planted on Thurs­day with the help of SBS busi­ness de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Honor Mathieson, cen­tre rear, and li­brar­ian Niki Ma­son, cen­tre right.

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