The Insurance Council of New Zealand is reminding motorists to be careful and not take risks ahead of Easter weekend, especially when it comes to using their phones.

“This is a busy time of year for car accidents,” said ICNZ Chief Executive, Tim Grafton. “Easter is a time when many Kiwis travel to see their families. Roads get busy, people get distracted or frustrated and accidents happen.”

Insurers are aware that a growing number of accidents involve distracted motorists and that, often, those distractions are from smartphones.

“We live in an increasingly connected world where we’re accustomed to communicating with each other quickly and frequently throughout the day,” said Grafton. “In addition to that, we increasingly use our smartphone to check maps and traffic reports, follow navigation directions and check the details for our trips in any number of apps. Each time we look at our phone, we’re removing our attention from the road and putting ourselves, our passengers and others on the road around us in danger.”

Using a phone while driving is illegal in New Zealand if that phone is not secured in a cradle or fixed compartment and the driver has to operate it manually rather than through voice.

“Insurance is there to put you back when things go wrong, but it can’t give you back the time you lost or the lives of those who may be killed by a moment’s inattention,” said Grafton. “The safest way to drive is the best. If you need to check your phone, pull over somewhere safe.”

Tips to stay safe on the roads

  • Don’t drive when you’re tired. Plan your journey ahead and take regular breaks to rest.
  • Drive to the conditions. Think about the weather, the traffic, the road conditions and your speed.
  • Avoid busy times on the road if you can.
  • Stay calm. Don’t let other drivers, road works, traffic or distractions in the car upset you. If you stay calm, you’re more likely to make sound driving decisions and avoid doing things that put you and others at risk.
  • Check your car is fit for the trip before you leave. Check your tyre pressure, tread, seat belts, oil and water levels. Consider having a mechanic or other professional give your car a full safety check so you can be certain everything is in good condition.
  • Always wear your seatbelt and make sure your passengers do the same.
  • Don’t drink or take drugs and drive.

Tips for if you’re involved in a car accident

  1. Check whether anyone is injured or emergency assistance is needed. If it is, call 11
  2. Take down the names, phone numbers and registration numbers of everyone involved.
  3. Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
  4. Take photos of the vehicles and damage and sketch out what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind.
  5. Call your insurer as soon as you can to report the incident and make a claim – the sooner you call them, the sooner they can help you get things sorted.
  6. If anyone is injured, it needs to be reported to the Police within 48 hours – this is a legal requirement.
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