Selwyn District Council has launched a campaign to encourage local residents to drive phone free. The message will be promoted on advertisements and billboards.

It has been illegal for motorists to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving in New Zealand since November 2009. Drivers cannot use a hand-held mobile phone:

  • to make, receive, or terminate a telephone call
  • to create, send or read a text message or email
  • to create, send or view a video message

Breaching these rules can result in a fine of $80 and 20 demerit points.

Selwyn road safety coordinator Ngaire Tinning said: “Motorists need their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road to be able to navigate the road safely. We also encourage people to avoid using any type of phone in a vehicle as motorists need to be able to concentrate on driving without distraction.

“Unfortunately it’s common for people to use mobile phones while driving even though it’s against the law,” she added. “I would urge people who see their friends or family using a mobile while driving to remind them it is dangerous and illegal and it puts them at higher risk of being involved in a crash. By doing this you are looking out for their safety.”

Ngaire said that even hands free phones can be a risk when driving, as it’s not just holding a phone which is distracting but taking part in a conversation.

The drive phone free campaign encourages motorists to make calls before or after their journey and to either let phone calls go to voice mail or have a passenger take the call. If calls or messages are urgent then drivers should pull over to return the call or read the message.

Local police are supporting the drive phone free campaign and will be looking out for any motorists who breach the law.