A night with police at a Petone checkpoint

From Checkpoint, 5:52 pm on 5 October 2018

Police manning traffic checkpoints say many drivers still aren't getting the basics, such as wearing seatbelts and staying away from their mobile phones, as the road toll continues to climb.

Crashes have claimed the lives of three people in separate accidents on the roads today.

A driver died in Mt Maunganui after the vehicle left the road while a two-vehicle crash in Manawatu has left one person dead. One person has also died after a serious crash just south of Foxton. 

On a recent sunny evening in Petone, Wellington District's road policing officers found recent tragedies on the road were not enough to stop some drivers from dangerously flouting the rules, and the officers were determined to catch them.

"We have an officer who we call a spotter, he's further down the road for us and he's looking for any offences, the rest of our team are up here on Hutt Road and Riddlers Crescent," he said. 

When looking at the vehicles it was hard to see who was wearing a seatbelt and who had a phone in their lap, but eagle-eyed Sergeant Laurence Vautier knew exactly what to look out for.

He soon saw a motorist who put on his seatbelt once he saw police on the roadside. 

Only about half an hour into the checkpoint the road policing team had their hands full. 

"I've five staff down the road and we're that busy, all of our staff are tied up with a driver each for not wearing a seatbelt," he said. 

There was pie eating and a few false alarms where people are fiddling with chargers - not ideal, but not enough to merit being slapped with an $80 cellphone fine or $150 for not wearing a seatbelt. 

The area covered by that checkpoint has had 30 crashes, including two serious ones, since 2001, 23 of which were at the intersection opposite Kmart. 

Yet, shockingly, while out filming, Senior Constable Rob Taylor stopped a car with an entire family not wearing seatbelts. 

"Dad was not wearing a seatbelt all the kids were not wearing a seatbelt aged 7,9 and 13, so it's a bit of a concern the example being led by the parent has let them down," he said. 

In the space of an hour, Mr Vautier's team caught six people driving while using their phones and 12 who didn't have their seatbelts on. 

He said the crashes he has attended where seatbelts were not worn didn't end well for anyone. 

"I've even been to minor crashes, where the people have sustained injuries, but it's been of a result of them not wearing a seatbelt," he said. 

"They've hit the windscreen, or the steering wheel or the dashboard and you talk to these drivers after the crash and they've got broken ribs and hit their head."

Which means, until everyone gets the message, teams like Mr Vautier's will be hitting the roads for the foreseeable future.