Drivers urged to steer clear of distractions

Press Release – Horizons Regional Council

Horizons Regional Council is welcoming a 10 day mobile phone crackdown by New Zealand Police and reminding all drivers to keep their eyes on the road. The two week operation marks two years since the introduction of legislation banning the use of handheld …October 26, 2011

Drivers urged to steer clear of distractions

Horizons Regional Council is welcoming a 10 day mobile phone crackdown by New Zealand Police and reminding all drivers to keep their eyes on the road.

The two week operation marks two years since the introduction of legislation banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving and Horizons road safety coordinator Debbie Webster believes the ban has changed driving behaviour to an extent.

“I’ve seen more and more people pulling over to take calls, but there are still drivers out there willing to put a phone call or text ahead of their own and other’s safety”, she says.

This is reflected in police numbers for the Central District region, which show 327 drivers have been fined for illegal cellphone use since the law came into effect in 2009.

Mrs Webster says drivers need to be aware of the risks posed by cell phone use, but says cell phones aren’t the only source of distraction on our roads.

Ministry of Transport statistics identified diverted attention as a contributing factor in 1,377 crashes in 2009, with distractions ranging from using cell phones to changing the radio station, talking to passengers and looking at scenery.

“Your brain takes 2.5 seconds to switch from one task to another”, Mrs Webster says.

“Travelling at 100km/hr, you will have travelled 60 metres before you even begin to react to a hazard on the road. Add using a cell phone, consuming food or drink or changing the radio station to the mix and you have a pretty lethal combination.”

She recommends drivers take simple steps to ensure a safer journey such as setting the radio station before leaving home, switching their phone off until they reach their destination or pulling over in a safe area to txt or return calls and stopping to enjoy their snack or drink.

The police operation will run until November 6. Any drivers caught using their cell phones while driving will receive an $80 fine and 20 demerit points.

ENDS

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