Wheels24 poll: Cellphone blitz
CHATTY DRIVERS BUSTED: The city of Cape Town is cracking down on drivers who used their cellphone behind the wheel by seizing their mobile phones.
Earlier in June 2012 we reported on a raft of changes government hopes to implement such as a probation period for new drivers and increased road-worthy tests for older vehicles.
As part of its campaign to reduce road deaths, the city of Cape Town has taken chatty drivers to task in a cellphone blitz in July. Drivers who risk talking on their cellphone while driving face having their phone confiscated... and indeed 16 phones were seized in the city's first peak-hour blitz.
Jason Hill, one of the first offenders nabbed, was unrepentant: "We are South Africans, you know. We are always going to use the device and be on the look-out for cops. It's just the way we are."
The by-law states that a cellphone can only be used in a car with a hands-free kit. Drivers caught breaking the law face a R500 fine and/or a jail term of up to three years.
Driving while chatting on your phone is indeed risky behaviour as even momentary distraction could prove disastrous especially while travelling at speed.
The trouble with confiscating mobile phones lies in the transparency of the law and the lack of due process. At least with speed-trapping evidence of wrong-doing could be presented in a number of ways such as speed trapping and photographing. The only evidence of wrong-doing in a case of cellphone seizure would be the police officer's word against yours. Traffic officials are tasked with providing photographic evidence to drivers who are infringing on the law. Will this happen in each case?
A more horrifying thought would be your privacy being invaded or airtime being used by SAPS.
So how do Wheels24 readers feel about this? We've had 856 responses to our homepage poll asking - "Do you think traffic officials should be allowed to confiscate cell phones?"
The majority of our readers (40% - 341 votes) were worried that in the future the province could eventually go after your vehicle should you break the law. Another concern for readers (15% - 126 votes) was the worry that cops would use their airtime while 11% (92 votes) of respondents feared for their privacy would be invaded.
Only 14% (124 votes) were in support of the law while 11% (90 votes) were in agreement provided evidence of wrongdoing was presented.
Voting booth results:
Absolutely, it will improve road safety 14% 124 votes
Yes, but only if they can provide proof 11% 90 votes
Maybe, if a driver was a repeat offender 10% 83 votes
No, what about your privacy? 11% 92 votes
No, cops would just use my airtime 15% 126 votes
No, what's next? Confiscating my ride? 40% 342 votes