Marlborough cop urges drivers to buckle up and lose the phone

File photo.

Marlborough Police are catching more drivers who are not properly restrained and/or are using their phones illegally when driving.

Local Highway Patrol Officer Sergeant Andy Holmes is concerned that drivers are continuing to make careless decisions, particularly around restraints and distractions.

“They’re putting themselves and everyone else on the road at risk,” he says.

“While it’s encouraging to see fewer lives being lost on Marlborough roads, worryingly we’re seeing more people illegally using their phones while driving and not using proper restraints.

“This is incredibly concerning as it indicates people are not taking road safety seriously and don’t fully recognise the risks they take when they get behind the wheel.”

In the first quarter of 2019 (1 January to 31 March 2019), 109 drivers were charged with mobile phone offences in Marlborough.

This is up 58 per cent (from 69 drivers) for the same period in 2018.

It is also well ahead of the national increase of 37 per cent from 2018 to 2019 (5251 to 7205).

“When you’re driving, your focus should be on the road and getting everybody in your car to the destination safely,” says Sergeant Holmes.

“Things can change in a split second and if you’re not paying attention you may not have time to react and avoid a crash.”

The risk of harm in a crash is compounded when drivers and passengers are not properly restrained.

Sergeant Holmes says some people just don’t seem to appreciate the importance of seatbelts and restraints.

“Being properly restrained reduces your chance of death or serious injury in a crash by 60 per cent in the front seat and 44 per cent in the back seat,” he says.

“These odds are convincing – but some people still think they’re invincible.”

The number of restraints offences (i.e.

not wearing a seatbelt or helmet) in Marlborough in the first quarter of 2019 has also increased to 302, 29 per cent more than the 235 offences recorded over the same period last year.

“We’ll never know how many deaths or serious injuries our enforcement and education efforts have prevented, but we know that we are making a difference,” says Sergeant Holmes.

“We just need everyone to do their part to help keep Marlborough roads safe and our people alive.”

Sergeant Holmes says there are four main behaviours that contribute to death and injury on our roads: not driving to the conditions; driving when impaired; not being restrained properly; and being distracted when driving.

“As well as not driving tired or after drinking and driving at a safe speed for the conditions, we urge all drivers to wear seatbelts and put phones and other distractions away whenever they get behind the wheel,” he says.

“It’s not rocket science, it’s just being a responsible driver.”