Increasing fines won’t stop cellphone use by drivers

Increasing fines and demerit points won’t stop cellphone use by high-risk drivers, says the car review website editor Clive Matthew-Wilson – who is an active road safety campaigner, says:

"Multiple studies have shown that fines and disqualification don't generally work as a deterrent for high risk offenders.”

Instead, Matthew-Wilson wants the police to permanently seize cellphones used by the drivers of moving vehicles.

“First offence you lose your cellphone. Second offence you lose your cellphone and your number. Third offence you lose your cellphone and your number, plus your car is impounded for seven days.”

Matthew-Wilson believes the New Zealand government has consistently underestimated how much cellphone use contributes to the road toll.


The American National Safety Council estimates 26% of all traffic crashes involve drivers using cellphones.

Young drivers are now regularly using social media while driving. It’s now common for drivers to use software such as Facetime to video themselves while they are driving, with predictable results.”

New South Wales road safety officials recently declared that texting, surfing the internet or talking on the phone while driving is now one of the top five causes of fatalities on NSW roads. An estimated 5% of crashes involve texting, and 21% involve drivers talking on handheld or hands-free cellphones.

Matthew-Wilson wants a ban on drivers using any phone for any purpose other than navigation while driving.

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“Increasing fines and demerit points may work for ordinary motorists, but for the tiny minority that cause most fatal crashes, fines are often a waste of time.”

“The police already have the power to seize vehicles that are being used dangerously; why not cellphones as well?”