No seatbelt: 2000, using cell: 1000
Seventy drivers a day aren’t making it click on Waikato roads.
One of those drivers was a woman travelling with a toddler unrestrained in the car with the child’s car seat stuffed in the boot.
It was one of the most frustrating encounters officers faced during a month long blitz on drivers flouting the seatbelt and cellphone driving laws on the region’s roads.
Just over 2000 drivers were nabbed for not wearing a seatbelt, or having a child in a proper restraint in a vehicle during the May crackdown.
Of the unbuckled drivers, 1200 were in the Hamilton city area.
On average 70 people a day travelling on Waikato roads were caught not wearing a seatbelt, Waikato road policing manager Inspector Marcus Lynam said. ‘‘Which is huge,’’ he said. ‘‘I was really surprised with the number of people not wearing restraints because it’s really simple, and it only takes a second to put a seatbelt on.
‘‘It’s a no-brainer and will save your life.’’
A third of people killed in road crashes were not wearing restraints at the time of the crash.
Half would have survived if they had been, he said.
In one traffic stop a child under the age of five was found unrestrained inside the car.
The child’s car seat was found in the boot, Lynam said.
‘‘So the officer got the car seat out of the car and correctly fitted it before sending them on their merry way, with some stern words.’’
World Health Organisation statistics show that child restraints reduce the likelihood of a fatality in a crash by up to 70 per cent.
‘‘There’s no excuses really for not having a child restrained properly.
‘‘For children found unrestrained where appropriate we gave out compliance - where parents were given a chance to purchase a car seat if they didn’t have one or get one fitted.’’
No one under 15 years old has been killed on the Waikato roads this year. Last year one youngster died. ‘‘No family should ever have to bury a child because they weren’t properly restrained in a car.’’
During the blitz another 1000 drivers were issued a $80 fine for using a cellphone while driving - 500 of them in the Hamilton city area.
On average 24 drivers a day were found talking or texting on a phone behind the wheel.
When stopped, some drivers told police: ‘‘I wasn’t texting, I was just checking Facebook,’’ Lynam said.
‘‘I wasn’t surprised with distraction – that is a really challenging road safety issue that we as a society need to take more responsibility over.
‘‘You see a lot of young people who can’t resist checking that text message – turn that phone off.’’
Among the worst were commercial drivers, such as courier operators, using cellphones while driving.
‘‘If a commercial operator needs to use a cellphone, then the companies should be investing in hands-free equipment.’’
In another instance police came across a university student munching a bowl of cereal on her way to class.
She was given a warning for careless driving and offered a bit of advice.
So far this year 22 people have died in the Waikato police district.
At the same time last year 14 people had been killed.
‘‘We need to bring fatalities down, it’s unacceptable.
‘‘Our message to drivers is simple: drive to the conditions, free from impairment and distraction and make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained.’’
Another 1000 drivers were busted driving while using a cellphone (file photo).