Police should confiscate cellphones from motorists caught using them while driving.
Dog and Lemon Guide motoring commentator Clive Matthew-Wilson says police have the power to make motorists’ lives “pure hell” if they are caught using the banned technology.
In the year to November 2011, 10,070 drivers were caught using cellphones. Last year, this figure rose to 12,973.
In the year to March 2012, 149 crashes were thought to have been at least partly caused by mobile use. Since 2007, 28 people have died on New Zealand roads in accidents said to have been caused by drivers using cellphones.
“Ticketing and fines are not changing driver behaviour. Immediate cellphone confiscation by police would hit cellphone users where it hurts," Mr Matthew-Wilson says.
“For many people, including business owners and employees, cellphones are now their primary means of communication. The loss of their cellphone, with all its contacts, would be devastating to most cellphone users, and a powerful motivation to change behaviour.”
He told NBR ONLINE he has noticed a huge uptake in hands-free car kit technology, especially from businesses keen to stay connected while on the road.
“Large businesses especially have hands-free kits installed in their fleet. But there has been a tremendous resurgence recently in the use of phones while driving.”
Wireless communication company Digital Logistics Group distributes Parrot Bluetooth technology. Spokesman Gary Davis says the kits are constantly in demand.
The company could hardly keep up with demand from installers in 2009, when cellphone use while driving was outlawed, but things are almost as busy now.
Mr Davis says one thing which keeps installers busy is the constant refit to new company lease vehicles.
Under Mr Matthew-Wilson’s proposal to confiscate the phones, every police car would carry a pre-printed receipt book and a few pre-paid padded courier envelopes.
Instead of issuing a ticket, the officer would instruct the offending driver to write his or her address onto the envelope.
The officer would then place the cellphone into the envelope, seal it and arrange for a courier to pick up the envelope from the local police station. The offender would get his/her cellphone back by courier in a few days.