14 Jan 2013

Confiscation would stop drivers using cellphones - campaigner

6:17 pm on 14 January 2013

A road safety campaigner is calling for a law change to allow police to immediately seize a cellphone from anyone caught using a mobile phone while driving.

Forty-one people have been seriously hurt or killed in a crash where a contributing factor was the driver being distracted by a cellphone since a ban was introduced in 2009 by the Government.

Clive Matthew-Wilson says the ban for drivers is a failure and suggests the risk of having a phone confiscated would modify drivers' behaviour.

He is proposing that every police car be issued courier envelopes, which offending drivers would write their address on and place their cellphones in.

Mr Matthew-Wilson says after two offences, cellphones should be permanently seized.

The idea has failed to gain support from police, however.

National road policing manager Carey Griffiths says the administration of cellphone seizures would be a nightmare and several laws would have to be overhauled, including the Bill of Rights Act.

Mr Griffiths says there are already serious penalties in place to deter using phones while driving, including the possibility of being charged and prison time.

Almost 30,000 people have been fined for using a cellphone while driving between 2009, when the law was introduced, and November 2012.

The use of hands-free mobiles for phone calls in vehicles is allowed.