FOR a long time, we have called in this column for action to be taken to clamp down on driving while using a phone. Well, we are delighted to see that as of Monday, this will be illegal.
Given much trumpeting lately by the government of how “the law is the law”, we hope that this will be one that will be enforced.
There are too many traffic accidents in our country. Too many lives snatched away. Too many families left to mourn the death of a loved one.
Often there can be a bit of bravado from drivers, who dismiss the dangers of driving while using a mobile phone because they claim they’re a good enough driver to be able to do both. Such bravado can end in a fatal crash. It’s clearly time for such behaviour to stop.
There has been a wealth of research around the globe on the risk of driving while using a handheld device.
A study by Harvard University found that drivers who used a cell phone drove slower, were nine percent slower to hit the brakes, and nearly a quarter more variation in the distance to the next car as they struggled to pay attention.
A 2008 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study in the US reported that driving while texting is six times more dangerous than drunk driving.
The facts are indisputable - and it makes common sense. Your attention belongs on the road. Not on someone talking in your ear while you drive one-handed. Not on trying to type a text message.
It should be on the road in front of you, nowhere else.
The law may change on Monday, but our behaviour ought to change now. It’s not just down to drivers either – we can all play a part.
If you’re a passenger in a car and the driver picks up the phone, tell them to put it down – after all, it’s your life they’re risking as well as their own.
If you receive a call from someone and it sounds like they are driving, tell them to call you back when they’re not on the road and hang up.
You’ll never know if you have saved a life by doing so – but imagine the horror of talking to someone when you hear them crash.
If you’re a driver, think about what that would be like for your loved ones. If it’s an urgent call, pull over. Put your family first.
So well done to Renward Wells and his team for pushing the regulations through. Now it’s over to the police to enforce it.
We sincerely hope you do – and that we see a drop in traffic fatalities as a result.