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A Ministry of Transport survey of 29,000 moving vehicles found one in every 40 drivers using a cell phone (2.6 percent). Half of those had a phone held to their head and the other half appeared to be texting.

The survey was carried out at 52 sites around New Zealand in June.

When vehicles were stationary in a queue, the number of drivers using a cell phone increased to 1 in every 20 vehicles (5.5 percent). Most of those were texting.

Ministry of Transport Policy Manager Leo Mortimer says cell phone use will be even higher than these results.

“The survey is only a snapshot during a moment in a driver’s journey when they pass the survey point.”

Mr Mortimer says drivers can’t properly drive and use a cell phone. “The primary task is driving.

“Even cars with hands-free driving don’t remove the distraction element of a telephone call.”

Since November 2009, it has been illegal to use a cell phone when driving – even when a car is stationary at traffic lights or in a queue. Only where a car is driven out of a stream of traffic and parked safely, can a cell phone be used.

The Ministry of Transport survey is a pilot study. The NZ Transport Agency is commissioning further research this year.

Read Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse's media release(external link)

Read the results of the survey

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