It’s great that using cellphones while driving will become illegal in New Zealand from November, with the usual exceptions of hands-free units. But, I wondered, what about people like me, who has very few uses for cellphones in cars, other than using the camera to catch offending motorists?
A few months ago, there was a noticeable rise in motorists running red lights (enough to tick me off considering there were some close calls), so yours truly turned narc for road-safety reasons. Only thing is, my memory isn’t as good as it was. When ﬁling a Roadwatch report on the New Zealand Police site, you need (rightly) to get everything correct: the date, time, type of car, colour, and whether there was a passenger. The location and the offence also needs to be recorded.
Roadwatch reports do not result in a ﬁne, but the red-light-runner (or whomever is the subject of the report) gets a letter in the mail, presumably to advise him or her to be more careful in future.
To get all my info right, I resort to the camera. (Sometimes I use the voice recorder.) I asked the police: how does the new law affect me?
To their credit, I received a reply today, and it makes perfect sense:
Thanks for your enquiry regarding the use of cellphones. On the face of it, I think that taking a photo may we[ll] be as dangerous as texting but at this stage, there are some details of the new legislation that have not yet been ﬁnalised.
I did check the draft rules after my original enquiry to the New Zealand Police, and read this (emphasis in original):
21. New clause 7.3A inserted
The following clause is inserted after clause 7.3:
“7.3A Ban on use of mobile telephones
“(1) Except as provided in subclause (2), a driver must not use a mobile telephone while the driver is operating a vehicle.
“(2) Subclause (1) does not apply to—
“(a) an enforcement ofﬁcer; or
Not really much of a way out in my situation, as the rules intend to deﬁne a mobile telephone as one which can take pictures and have other features. And no, there’s no way under the Land Transport Act 1998 that I would be an ‘enforcement ofﬁcer’.
Either I can buy a digital camera that has no telephony features, resort to having a notepad in the car (potentially more dangerous?), train up my photographic memory to get the details I miss, or, much to the joy of law-breakers, hang up my deputy sheriff star and let the red-light-runners go. I might have to go with the third option: in the words of Homer Simpson, ‘Self-improvement has always been a passion of mine.’ Posted by Jack Yan, 05:38
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