Mobile phone driving fines jump to $150 but are still 'pathetic', should 'wreck' offenders' lives - road safety campaigner

The fine for using a mobile phone while driving is about to nearly double, but remain a "pathetic" penalty for such a dangerous activity, according to one road safety campaigner.

Transport Minister Michael Wood on Friday morning unveiled the new $150 penalty, which will kick in on April 30. 

"This is our way of saying Kiwis need to take this seriously and put away the phone while driving," he said.

"I've listened and I hope this underlines to New Zealanders the serious and potentially deadly consequences of driving while on the phone."

Rather than be hit with a $150 fine - up from $80 - Clive Matthew-Wilson says offenders should instantly lose their phone, for good.

"It's very simple - you get pulled over and you're using a phone, the cop reaches forward and says, 'Thanks - that's mine now,'" he told The AM Show on Friday.

"First offence, you lose your phone. Boom, ruin your day."

And that's just the start.

"If you do it again, you lose the phone and your number," the Dog and Lemon Guide editor said.

"For many people that would be a disaster - every person they know on the planet is on that phone, right? The idea is to wreck their life, then they don't do it again."

Matthew-Wilson says anyone willing to risk an $80 fine won't be put off by a $150 fine. 

"It's not going to make the slightest difference... They're pissing about with these pathetic penalties that everybody knows won't work."

Clive Matthew-Wilson.
Clive Matthew-Wilson. Photo credit: The AM Show

He says distracted drivers now account for more accidents than speeding drivers, yet much of the focus remains on speed. 

"The Government's talking about lowering the speed on an entire highway network at the moment, but they're not looking at the causes of accidents." 

Former Transport Minister and National MP Simon Bridges told The AM Show the fine should be $300 minimum, but even that likely wouldn't deter offenders.

In addition to the $150 fine, drivers caught using mobiles behind the wheel will also receive 20 demerit points.

Drivers who fail to learn the lesson can lose their licence for three months if they accumulate 100 demerit points inside a two-year period. Matthew-Wilson says a third offence should result in not just a loss of the phone and the number, but the car itself. 

Beyond that?

"I don't think there's going to be a fourth time."