30 Oct 2013

Motorists still texting while driving

8:44 pm on 30 October 2013

Police have increasing concerns about the number of people still texting or using hand-held cellphone while driving.

A new survey by AA Insurance shows that texting while driving remains the number one distraction for New Zealand motorists.

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Photo: PHOTO NZ

The poll of 1000 drivers aged 18 and over indicates that nearly 20% of people surveyed say they still send text messages while driving, despite a law change in late 2009.

Drivers aged under 34 most often flout the anti-texting law, while women are twice as likely as men to text while driving.

Talking on the phone is also a big distraction, with 18% of the drivers surveyed saying they still often use their mobile without a hands-free kit.

Other distractions include reading a newspaper or magazine, personal grooming such as applying make-up or shaving, adjusting the music or GPS system.

The national manager of road policing, Superintendent Carey Griffiths, says police are catching an increasing number of drivers illegally using their phones.

"If you talk to people caught texting or using cellphones, a lot of them know they shouldn't do it. They accept it's a risk, but find a reason in their mind why they can safely do it at that point. And there is no safe point - the message from us to them is don't do it, it's risky."

Mr Griffiths says police continue to enforce the law strongly, with 40,000 infringement notices issued in the last four years.