On watch for drivers distracted by their phones. And it doesn’t take long. SGT DAVE TOWNSEND: “There’s one down there now, look. In the car.” PATRICK GOWER: “That’s absolutely blatant.” It’s rush-hour. It’s busy. SGT DAVE TOWNSEND: “The phone was in his right hand and he was texting.” And drivers are ‘busy’ too, on their phones. SGT DAVE TOWNSEND: “Station-wagon, driver phone left hand texting.” Today, police are out to get them. So we’re at the top of the Mount Vic Tunnel for this operation. We’ve got Sergeant Dave Townsend who is our spotter. What he does is he spots people using their phone and he calls it in… Like that. SGT DAVE TOWNSED: “Delta Zulu *CENSORED* Five.” “Female driver, phone right hand, appears to be texting.” And using their phone means they’re on their way to a ticket. Because waiting at the other end with their license plate number and vehicle description is the rest of the police operation. OFFICER: “So, what was your reason for having your cellphone in your hand?” Playing that music on her iPhone will cost her. WOMAN: How much was it?
OFFICER: It’s $80, and there’s 20 demerit points. PATRICK GOWER: “How do you feel about what just happened?” WOMAN: “I guess it’s fair, I shouldn’t have been using it…” “But I think a lot of people do.” “Maybe more awareness that we shouldn’t be doing it…” “Or being more aware of how often we are on our phone while we are driving.” So they’re spotted in the tunnel, then they come through, they’re picked up on the other side, just like this driver… And then he’s brought in here, where he will be checked out. OFFICER: “You are going to get a ticket for the cellphone today.” This driver is the chief executive of a Government department. He did not want to be identified. And just like the drivers, the reasons vary. OFFICER: “You had your cellphone in your right hand, texting.” “Any reason for that?” Driver: “Ah, no. I’m listening to a podcast.” Inspector Juliet Burgess says there is zero tolerance. INSP JULIET BURGESS: “There’s no excuse that’s reasonable.” “They need to just put their cellphones away.” OFFICER: “We’ve got one guy on the other side of the tunnel, one guy in the tunnel, saw you talking on your phone.” WOMAN: “Me?” While a serious crash is unlikely in slow traffic, this is still State Highway One. SGT DAVE TOWNSEND: “We get a lot of nose to tail crashes on the State Highway going out of Wellington.” “A lot of those are caused by distraction, and that can hold the whole city up for hours.” This operation issued 34 phone infringements in 90 minutes. That’s one person caught on their phone every three minutes. SGT DAVE TOWNSEND: “There’s one there now look.” *LAUGHS* Our addiction to our phones, a dangerous distraction.