No seat­belt: 2000, us­ing cell: 1000

Hamilton Press - - FRONT PAGE - PHILLIPA YALDEN

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).

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