Auckland Transport campaign targets people using phones while driving

By Taroi Black

A campaign led by Auckland Transport aims to shift the focus away from mobile phones and their apps, to solely pay attention while driving.

It's also in conjunction with a renewed push by the police to address high-risk distractions on the roads.

Auckland Transport's new "Oi" campaign highlights recent national police figures which indicated increasing cellphone use among drivers.  Last year a total of 21,538 drivers were pinged for using their phones compared to almost 14,000 in 2013.

The Automobile Association said it feared the "Oi" campaign could encourage vigilante-type behaviour with drivers forcibly taking keys from other drivers. AA hopes the message gets across loud and clear.

AA Principal Advisor, Barney Irvine says, “Well we're really pleased to see more happening in this space.  Mobile phone use behind the wheel is a real problem and the message isn't getting through.”

A survey conducted by Auckland Transport last year, found that over 65% of 20 to 29-year-olds admitted to using their smartphones while driving.

Barney Irvine says, “People don't recognise the danger of it.  They sense that they can still get away with it and they're not taking it seriously enough.”

The police said that phones were linked to five road deaths between 2009 and 2013, and eight serious injuries.

The AA is also insuring drivers, if you are caught using phones while driving you will be prosecuted.