5 Sep 2008

Fines planned for drivers using cellphones

9:06 pm on 5 September 2008

Proposed changes to Land Transport rules look set to ban people using hand-held cellphones while driving.

The changes would see drivers fined $50 and given 25 demerit points, if caught using a cellphone, blackberry or personal digital assistant device while driving.

Hands-free phones and two-way radios will be exempt.

Associate Transport Minister Harry Duynhoven says distraction by drivers using mobile phones was a factor in 26 fatal crashes between 2002 and 2007.

Other proposed changes would limit mopeds to 50km/h.

The Government is seeking public feedback on the proposals which could come into force in July next year. Submissions close on 16 October.

Some motoring enthusiasts are questioning whether a ban on cellphones will help to solve the problem of driver distraction.

The Wellington Car Club captain, Murray O'Neil, says he expects some people will still covertly use cellphones while driving.

Mr O'Neil thinks the issue of driver distraction would be better dealt with by training new and young drivers.