Beware, cops keeping vigil on drivers using mobiles

Report by: 
ROOPA LALL
Port Blair
10 Sep 2018

In a bid to promote safe driving practices and curb mishaps on the roads, the Traffic Police have challaned at least 2500 persons for using mobile phones while driving since January this year. As per reports, majority of those penalized are two wheeler riders found concealing the phones within their helmets, while the rest constitute four wheeler, three and heavy vehicle drivers.
Using mobile phone while driving is the most common and easy form of distraction when behind the wheel. Efficient traffic regulation, including preventing phone use while driving, is among the top priorities of Traffic Police here, said a senior traffic official. “However, unlike a helmet violation or red light jumping which can be noticed from a distance, detecting mobile use violation is difficult and often go unnoticed until the driver zoom past traffic cops. Most motorcyclists conceal the phones within their helmets. But the traffic police has launched a sustained crackdown on motorists using mobiles phones while driving. More than 2500 motorists using phones while driving have been fined since January this year.”
“One may argue that mobile phone hands-free device is a technology which allows a person to talk without holding a gadget in hand and enables the driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel. But even using a hands-free device does not mitigate the danger. If a driver is distracted, he indulges in dangerous driving. So, whether a hands-free system is being used or an earphone is plugged in, it amounts to an offence. The only legal way to answer a call when behind the wheel is to pull over to the side of the road and then answer the phone,” said a traffic official, who didn’t wish to be named.
A recent report by the World Health Organisation found that those who use mobile phones while driving face four times higher risk of a crash. The number of accidents and fatalities due to distracted driving has shot up across the world. In the year 2016, 2,138 lives were lost in India due to using mobile phones while driving and as per experts the data is hugely under-reported since there is hardly any scientific investigation or recording of fatal crashes in India.