The importance of this message wasn’t lost on Morrison, because he kept repeating it throughout the song. Yet many Kiwi drivers simply can not fathom these two simple rules. Regularly, the New Zealand Herald sends a reporter and a photographer to scope out the Auckland motorway for an hour to identify drivers who appear to be dangerously distracted while driving. The newspaper found 49 candidates for a Darwin Award this year, up from the 29 they witnessed 18 months earlier. Earning the grand I IMS Beagle prize was a bloke driving a van for an electrical company, who had his right hand holding a cigarette outside the driver’s window, while the left held a cellphone to his ear. There definitely were no hands on the wheel in this instance, and it was equally debatable whether this driver’s eyes were on the road.
If that wasn’t appalling enough, what happened next possibly sent Morrison’s body spinning in the Parisian cemetery where he is buried. For the reporter noted the name of the company that the driver worked for and contacted his boss for comment. Instead of condemning his employee’s actions as potentially dangerous, Peter Mclnally of Trilect Electrical Services, heartily condoned them.
‘It’s pretty much the same (tiling) I will do in my car every day I will take a fine every time, rather than miss a call and turn away business.’
Mclnally defended the lack of hands-free Bluetooth communications in his company’s work vans by saying that there were 110 devices that didn’t echo when used in said work vehicles. The Herald reporter failed to ask him when he last looked for such equipment, or why the front of his company’s vans weren’t insulated from the load area out back to enable clearer hands-free communications. Nor did he ask why Mclnally didn’t use such a system in his car.
Mein ally’s attitude is enshrined by his comment that he’d rather ‘take a fine every time.’ I le didn’t say that he’d rather ‘kill someone or himself every time’ yet there have been plenty of examples recently where hands-on cellphone use by a driver has resulted in a tragic outcome. A 26-year-old mother-of-two would still be alive if she’d given her driving more attention when travelling through Те Puna, near Tauranga. Instead, her car crossed the centre-line and was involved in a fatal head-on collision because she was using her cellphone at the time. The father of the two children also injured in the crash is now a vehement promoter of cellphone-free driving, ‘just divorce your phone,’ urges Matt Rundell. ‘If there’s a call and it’s that important, pull over.’
The instigator of the ‘the text can wait’ campaign, lade Beale, was also inspired by a fatal accident, where a women driver died after crashing head-on with a car driven by her sister. Police found that the dead woman was texting on her phone at the time. Beale, along with her sister and a mutual friend survived the crash.
‘At the moment, you have to be involved in something or see something to get the message,’ she says. ‘I hope that one day people wll see it like drink-driving and see the seriousness of it.’ Meanwhile, I definitely won’t be giving Trilect Electrical Services a ring if I require the services of an electrician.