671 Auckland drivers caught using mobile phones - survey

A shocking new survey has caught 3.5 percent of Auckland drivers using their mobile phones while driving - far more than police catch in the entire country.

The data, collected by Australian company One Task, found a massive number of drivers breaking the law.

One Task filmed in the Southern Motorway underneath the East Tamaki Road crossing for seven and a quarter hours. During this period, 671 motorists were seen touching their mobile phone. On average a motorist was seen touching their phone every 39 seconds.

Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car review website dogandlemon.com, says distracted driving using cellphones is more of a danger than speeding.

"According to the government's own research, speeding is responsible for 15 percent of road deaths," he told Newshub.

"By comparison, American research suggests that distracted driving is responsible for 26 percent of the road toll. Because smartphone technology is identical around the planet, we can assume this figure applies to New Zealand as well."

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.

And research from the University of Utah shows that using a cellphone while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk.

One Task says their statistics show the number of drivers using their phones is far worse than the number being caught.

"For comparison the NZ Police caught 27,681 motorists, across the entire country, in the 12 months to June, 2017. That translates to around 76 a day," a spokesperson told Newshub.

"For comparison we would have expected to detect this many motorists in less than an hour at this single location."

Mr Matthew-Wilson says the police are fixated on speed, and therefore often ignore cellphone use.

"In central Auckland, the speed limit is rigidly enforced, yet you can see countless drivers chatting away on smartphones. Clearly, the police enforcement strategy needs to change."

However, he says fines and disqualification don't work for the highest risk drivers. Instead, he wants the police to have the power to seize cellphones used by the drivers of moving vehicles.

"First offence you lose the cellphone. Second offence you lose the cellphone and the number," he argues.

"Third offence you lose the cellphone, the number and your car for seven days. I guarantee that this strategy would cause cellphone use to plummet. All it needs is for the government to change the law."