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Thursday, May 30, 2013

6 months jail & Rs.1000/- - for drivers who use phone whilst on wheel

An advertisement of a tyre Company used to show ‘idiots on road’ and you need not travel any length to see them… you see them daily.. people walking on the road talking on the mobile, not caring for the traffic and on-coming vehicles; those 2 wheeler riders bending their neck – keeping mobile between ear and shoulders and yet driving the vehicle; those at the steering wheel texting or speaking on phone……


When will they ever understand that they are putting theirs and other lives into jeopardy ~ sad to see the technological marvel is being abused so badly.  A great means of effective communication, people are not using it but abusing it – you find people talking while driving two wheelers, cars, whilst walking on busy roads, travelling in public transport, while inside Temples, in cinema halls, in public places even in toilets.

Not only direct but passive too………… how many firmly instruct the driver to first complete the talk and then drive and ‘not to take calls’ while driving… it is another matter, that most parents would find it offending when the school van driver speaks on mobile phone stating that it imperils their children who are inside the van; but the same parents would call the same driver to find his whereabouts asking him to wait for sometime, as their kids are getting readied and could possibly delay – all other users…. Fortunate that Indians are talkative and keep talking on the phone all the time ~ the drivers and others [generally speaking] are not given to the habit of texting ~ i.e., sending messages from the equipment when driving.  In foreign countries, things are somewhat different as most are inclined to text…. [while driving too]

Reportedly, in UK  ‘Professional drivers are the worst text offenders’ that people who drive for their job take more risks behind the wheel.   A survey  states that people who drive as part of their job are more likely to endanger lives by taking risks behind the wheel.   KCAB Home, drivers who use phones at the wheel face 6 months in jail and Rs.1000/- - yes, in Delhi, as Delhi Police step up safety campaign according to this report in Daily Mail of 27th May 2013. 

The prospect of landing in jail may work where road safety education has failed. Everyone knows talking, or texting, on a mobile phone while driving is dangerous, but that doesn't stop most Delhiites from doing it.  The possibility of a prison term, however, might do the trick, the Delhi Traffic Police have come to believe. They now plan a drive to prosecute those who use cellphones while at the wheel. A phoney offender can be booked under Section 184 of the Motor Vehicles Act-1988, and punished with a jail term extending up to six months and a fine of Rs 1,000/-.

Crackdown: Using your mobile while driving could now lead to a jail sentence… Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Anil Shukla said the habit of talking on mobile phone is tantamount to dangerous driving.  "Those caught may be arrested and sent to jail. Their vehicles can be impounded and driving licences will also be punched by the traffic police officers," he added.

No deterrent : 
Though the penal provision for talking on the phone while at the wheel is harsh, it has so far failed to work as a deterrent. This can perhaps be attributed to the traffic police's poor prosecution record. Only a handful of motorists are challaned for the offence. Till May 25 this year, the traffic police have prosecuted about 700 suspected culprits.  In 2012, the total number of offenders booked was 1,700. The traffic police had arrested 31 persons and impounded 10 cars last year. The numbers are miniscule considering the traffic police book 8,000-10,000 people every day for all traffic violations.


The Delhi Traffic Police, on their part, say there are certain practical difficulties in prosecuting the offenders. They claim that though the use of cell phone by motorists is rampant, it is a little difficult to catch the violators.  "Many a time, we don't have clear evidence. Also, the punishment is heavy and we have to act judiciously," said an officer. "When caught, people come up with some or the other excuse. Many claim they were just singing. We can't randomly stop cars on roads and get into arguments with drivers. That will obstruct traffic movement," the officer added.

Their task has become even more difficult as people have started using hands-free devices to avoid easy detection by the traffic police. Bluetooth devices attached with speakers are also frequently used for talking while driving.  The police say it's for the motorists to be disciplined on the road and have regard for others' - and their own - lives. "We have seen major accidents take place as the drivers were busy with mobile phones. This is a serious issue related to road safety and people should be aware of the danger it poses," Shukla said.  If the driver is busy with the phone, s/he has only one hand on the steering, he added. People also take their eyes off the road while talking on phone.

Tech effect
"Distraction is there even in the case of handsfree systems. They too divert the driver's attention from the road," the Additional CP said.  "The new devices have made it convenient for the people, but they need to be aware of the risks. Our focus is to bring about awareness." The officer said the traffic police will also try and talk to car manufacturers so that misuse of such devices can be prevented.

Next time when the cellphone rings in your pocket, or on the dashboard, do remember that a policeman might be watching. Better  if you don’t take the call at all when on wheel, irrespective of  whether a Police man is watching or not….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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