15 Oct 2008

Programme to curb 'text driving' to be launched

6:10 am on 15 October 2008

A Government programme will be launched at Parliament at midday on Wednesday to put teenagers off texting while driving.

Details will be announced by Police Commissioner Howard Broad and the Transport Safety Minister.

Two sisters, Lucy, 18, and Isabelle Simon, 15, were killed when their car struck a truck north of Otaki, in January 2007.

The Levin Coroner pointed to worn snow tyres as a major factor in the crash, but also found it was likely that Lucy was distracted by a text message.

In another instance: a Canterbury farm worker Robert Stonestreet, 20, was sentenced to home detention and community work earlier this year on two charges of drink driving causing death.

The Christchurch District Court heard he was sending text messages before he collided with Sam and Bev Keating, who had been celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary.

Precise statistics unknown

The national manager of police youth services says exact statistics on crashes involving texting are elusive. However, Superintendent Bill Harrison says there's no doubt that education is needed.

A survey of about 2,500-people earlier this year by AA Insurance, suggested two thirds of young people sent and received text messages while driving.

Public submissions on a proposal to ban using hand-held phones while driving, close on Thursday.