An open letter to drivers on cell phones

Dear driver,

We see you everywhere when you hold your cellphone to your ear whilst driving. The rest of us are trying to understand why you are still doing this.  Here are the possibilities we think may explain this.

For one, you may not know about the law that came into effect a few years ago- 1 November 2009 to be exact. There was lot of publicity at the time and occasionally road safety staff would put something in the paper or on radio to remind you about this. So maybe you were so busy so you missed all that.

Please take note: It is an offence in New Zealand to operate a cell phone without a hands-free kit when you drive a vehicle (Land Transport Road User Rule 2004 clause 7.3A). You may however operate a mobile phone when calling 111 or *555 IF it is unsafe or impractical to stop to make the call. *555 is the number to call to report unsafe driver behaviour to the police and 111 is the emergency number for police, ambulance or fire service.

Another possibility we think is that you cannot afford it a thirty-dollar hands-free kit. Could it be that the monthly cost of your latest model phone, latest model vehicle, up-market home etc., are just so high that you just cannot afford the one off thirty dollar for this hands-free kit.

Do you perhaps think you are above the law and are more important than the rest of us? We see it as you showing disrespect towards us.

Now here is the other side of this. While nothing may have happened to you until now and you feel on top of the world, the day will come when there is going to be an incident. Then your life as they know it as well as other innocent people’s lives is going to fall apart. Then you will have to explain to the judge and/or family of the injured persons, why you chose not to follow the rules. It is going to be extremely embarrassing and heartbreaking.

Do you want to avoid this scenario? Get a hands-free kit or stop using your phone when you drive. It is as simple as that.

On behalf of all the other drivers who do not use their phones when they drive or use a hands-free kit.

Daniel Naudé

Road Safety Coordinator