Wheels24 poll: Cellphone blitz

2012-07-10 12:19

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

  • tdonkin - 2012-07-10 13:01

    "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." What an attitude! Arrogant and ignorant. "11th commandment: Thou shalt not get caught". No wonder we have such a high accident rate. The R500 fine law has been around for years. Now something is being done about it. If you switch your phone off, your fears that the cops might use your air-time are answered.

  • sarel.carstens - 2012-07-10 13:04

    Wow... R500 for using the device.. Try this in Namibia and your pocket is R2000 lighter.. That could be a deterrent.. Question is.. If yours get confiscated, do you ever get it back and how? Still pay the R500? Wonder how many "bribes" are going to be paid... LOL.. It is happening everywhere..

  • verysourboy - 2012-07-10 13:11

    To be honest it's nice to see traffic cops doing something other than hiding in a bush all their lives. However, we all know that we have one of the most corrupt police forces in the world. At the end of the day you have to ask what happens to a confiscated phone, because I would bet a sizable chunk of my salery that they end up in the pockets of officers who want a quick upgrade before the end of their contract. The Traffic police have demonstrated nothing to make us trust them to do the right thing, ask Project Justice how many illegal speed traps are set up daily or how many drivers are wrongfully accused and fined. Quite frankly it's not a bad idea, i just don't trust the guys in uniform to do their service rather than just trying to fill their own pockets.

  • erik.p.vanwyk - 2012-07-10 14:21

    Rather do an "on the spot" fine (not a bribe) instead of taking the device?

  • al.govender - 2012-07-10 14:46

    how can we trust South African police... they are the most corrupt on the continent! if they not soliciting bribes, or raping people, they are breaking the law by speeding, driving recklessly, and for the record, using their cellphones while driving. the only difference between them and us are the "badge" they carry that forces us to respect them. If cops set a good example, i will adhere, till then, i will use a cheap-ass phone with a pre-rica'ed sim and mxit away!!

  • hilton.camons.1 - 2012-07-10 17:43

    What a croc! I live in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape and saw a cop getting ready to turn right at an intersection in his patrol car chatting nonchalantly on his cell phone. Did he perhaps think that because it was a Saturday, the law didn't apply? Who knows? But I'll abide by the law when our traffic police start setting the example to be followed...

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