Too many Kiwi drivers are flouting mobile law
Almost half the country’s motorists think they can get away with using mobile phones while driving.
Talking and texting while behind the wheel has been illegal since November 2009, but new research by the Ministry of Transport has revealed drivers still have little fear of getting caught.
The ministry’s annual Public Attitudes to Road Safety Survey for 2013 found 47 per cent of the 1670 people interviewed thought it was unlikely they would be pinged for using a hand- held phone while driving.
It comes after Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse said recently that too many people were flouting the law.
‘‘Using a cellphone while driv- ing may seem a minor offence, on the face of it, but for some New Zealanders it will be the difference between a long life or an early death.’’
In June, a separate ministry study monitored 29,000 drivers across the country and found one in every 40 used a mobile phone while driving. When their cars were stuck in traffic, that number increased to one in every 20.
Automobile Association spokesman Mike Noon said current attitudes toward mobile phones in cars were concerning, but not surprising.
The association had wanted an education campaign on the dangers of mobile phones in cars to accompany the ban in 2009.
‘‘We want people thinking that using cellphones while driving is putting people at significant risk.’’
Because the compliance rate was so low, more education was needed before talk turned to increasing the penalty for mobile phone use, he said.
Getting caught currently results in an $ 80 fine and 20 demerit points.