Road death toll is basic arithmetic
I don’t believe motorists exceeding the speed limit are responsible for the increase in road injuries and deaths in recent years, despite all the effort police put into trying to stop “speeding”. The real cause for the increase is texting at the wheel.
I’ve been saying this for years, and finally it looks as if it’s starting to sink in with some of our politicians, judging by the fact that Acting Associate Minister of Transport James Shaw has ordered an investigation into whether New Zealand is lagging behind other countries in penalties for texting at the wheel.
For me it’s a no-brainer. Driving is something that requires all your attention, all of the time. Texting, too, is something that requires all your attention while you’re doing it. Which brings it back to simple arithmetic. Two into one doesn’t go!
There have been a number of fatalities in recent years near where I live where drivers have inexplicably drifted across the centre line and into the path of innocents driving towards them. The reason why they strayed has never been publicly explained, but I believe texting at the wheel is to blame.
If you’re caught texting at the wheel in Britain (and they have cameras everywhere, not just relying on cops to actually catch them in the act) you’re going to be fined £200, and half the total demerit points of 12 in three years.
In France the penalty is the same as driving while drunk – 135 and three (of the total of 12) points. And if you stop to take a call, it HAS to be in a proper parking spot, not just pulling over onto the hard shoulder.
Some states in Aussie recently upped both penalties and demerit points, so there it depends on where you are driving, but all are much harsher than New Zealand, where you get a slap-on-the-wrist $80 fine and lose 20 points of the 100 you’re allowed to accumulate within a two-year period.
To make it quite clear, under the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004, it is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone to: • Make, receive or terminate phone calls. • Create, send or read texts or emails. • Create, send or view video messages. • Communicate in any other way.