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Cellphone ‘blitz’ starts Monday

23 November 2012

Cellphone ‘blitz’ starts Monday

Hutt City Council is supporting a ‘blitz’ by police on the use of cellphones while driving from this Monday to 2 December.

All drivers caught using cellphones while driving (unless using a hands-free device) will be stopped and action will be taken.

The penalty for using a cellphone while driving is a fee of $80 and 20 demerit points.

Hutt Valley acting police Area Commander Shane Cotter says the week-long ‘blitz’ is intended to refocus drivers' attention on this “risky and potentially life-threatening behaviour.”

“The reality is when your attention is distracted by the phone, you’re less focussed on controlling the vehicle, and won’t be as quick to react when something unexpected happens,” he says.

Council’s road safety coordinator Jan Simmons says in the three years since the ban on cellphone use has been in place, cellphone use while driving has been identified as a significant cause in 18 crashes in the Hutt Valley.

“Some drivers continue to ignore the law or have become complacent. I want to encourage the public to help police combat this issue by reporting drivers they spot talking or texting on a cellphone while driving,” she says.

Bad driving, including using a cellphone while driving, can be reported online via the police’s Community Roadwatch web page: www.police.govt.nz/service/road/roadwatch.html

For those without internet access, paper forms are available from police stations.

Statistics from the NZ Transport Agency released in July this year show since the ban there has been 424 crashes nationwide where cellphone use was a factor, resulting in 15 deaths, 24 serious injuries and 110 minor injuries.

Safe Hutt Valley is a group of organisations working together to improve safety across the Hutt Valley region.

The organisations involved are Upper Hutt City Council, Hutt City Council, ACC, Regional Public Health, Hutt Valley District Health Board, Āhuru Mōwai o Te Awakairangi (formerly known as the Hutt Valley Family Violence Network) and the police.

The main aims of Safe Hutt Valley are to reduce crime and family violence, improve road safety, reduce harm from alcohol, and prevent injury and suicide.

ENDS

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