Police plan blitz on mobile phone drivers

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Nelsonians using their mobile phones while driving are being targeted by police.

Tasman Police is taking part in a nation-wide blitz for the remainder of the month, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the introduction of legislation banning mobile phone use while driving and to remind drivers of the risks associated with distraction while driving.

Tasman Police issued 311 infringement notices for drivers using mobile phones during the past year – with 197 of them coming from the Nelson Bays area. That number was higher than the last fiscal year when Tasman Police issued 294 infringements for mobile phone use with just 146 of them coming from the Nelson Bays area.

Inspector Jenni Rich-ardson, roading mana- ger for Tasman, says there are no excuses for people still failing to comply with this legislation several years after it was outlawed. “It is a concern that the number of tickets issued is going up in Nelson.”

Jenni says Nelson drivers can expect extra attention around mobile phone enforcement as it appears that they are not getting the message. “My advice to those who don’t have a hands free device in the car for their mobile phone is to turn your phone off while driving so you won’t be distracted or tempted to answer the phone if it rings,” she says.

Although the legislation allows the use of hands-free mobile phones, police still recommend that drivers minimize the potential for distraction by switching phones off while driving or at least pulling over to the side of the road to make or receive calls. It is only legal to use a mobile phone to receive or make a call when driving if the driver does not have to hold or manipulate the phone to do so or if the phone is securely mounted to the vehicle.

The fine for driving while using a cell phone is $80, and 20 demerit points.

Police will also be checking to see if people are wearing their safety belts.