Waka Kotahi reveals the shocking number of Aucklanders who use their phones while driving

Waka Kotahi reveals the shocking number of Aucklanders who use their phones while driving
Photo credit: Getty Images

New data has revealed the shocking number of drivers on Auckland roads who use their phones while driving.

Waka Kotahi's six-month trial of safety cameras looked at how many people used their phones while driving, as well as passengers who weren't wearing seatbelts. The trial was also a chance to test the ability of safety cameras to accurately detect this behaviour.

Results from the trial, which began on May 24, 2022, and ended on November 24, 2022, found that across three sites, one in 42 drivers (2.4 percent) were detected illegally using mobile phones, while one in 95 (1 percent) vehicles had occupants not wearing seatbelts. 

The total number of potential offences recorded over the full trial period was 242,959.

A limited seven-day test period also looked at heavy motor vehicles to capture data on the extent of seatbelt non-compliance. Approximately 6.5 percent of all seatbelt offences captured were by heavy motor vehicle drivers at one of the site locations.

No enforcement action was taken during the trial and no drivers received infringement notices, warnings, or any other communication from Waka Kotahi as a result of the trial. 

All images taken were deleted within 48 hours, with a small number of anonymised images kept for reporting purposes.

Tara Macmillan, Waka Kotahi's general manager of regulatory transformation and system, said the trial was the first step in collecting better evidence on the scale of these road safety issues in New Zealand and the role of safety cameras in addressing them. 

"We're taking a pragmatic approach to looking at how this technology can be introduced most effectively, including how automated detection could work alongside other road safety strategies," she said.   

"Safety cameras and automated detection technology are potentially important tools for broader future use. They are just one way that we can keep people safe by reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads." 

Macmillan added the findings of the trial will inform future decisions on regulatory changes which would be needed to enable the use of safety cameras to enforce mobile phone and seatbelt offences, which is currently not permitted under the Land Transport Act 1998.