Waikato man who lost mother in text-driving crash wants tougher penalties

Drive 12/09/2018

Seven years ago, Waikato man Eliot Jessep received the news we all dread.

Just two days before Christmas Eve, his mother Paula was killed when her car crossed the centre line and hit another vehicle.

A police investigation later revealed she was texting before the crash. In just 45 minutes in the lead up to the head-on collision, Paula sent 19 text messages.

Every year hundreds of people are injured or killed as a result of distracted driving, and that includes texting.

The fine for the crime is just $80 and 20 demerit points. To put that in perspective it takes 100 points over a two year period to lose your licence.

Seven years since his mum was killed north of Tirau, in the Waikato, Eliot Jessep believes the punishments for the crime need to be tightened.

Speaking to Stuff, Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw said transport officials were ordered to look at how harsher penalities overseas had contributed to the reduction of using a phone while driving.

"This includes the use of safety cameras and other technologies, and higher penalties for distracted drivers," Mr Shaw said.

Listen to the full interview with Eliot Jessep above. 

Drive with Ryan Bridge and Lisa Owen, 3pm - 6pm Weekdays and streaming live on 'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.