Road death toll is ba­sic arith­metic

Motor Equipment News - - ED SPEAK -

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.

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