Motoring corner: “The Use of Mobile Phones While Driving”

Many countries have introduced laws that ban the use of hand-held mobile phones whilst driving. But it seems that many people have not fully embraced it and are still putting their lives and those of other road users at risk.

Many countries have introduced laws that ban the use of hand-held mobile phones whilst driving. But it seems that many people have not fully embraced it and are still putting their lives and those of other road users at risk.

In many countries, the use of mobile phones came into effect by the turn of the 20th Century; the disadvantages of using the same while driving have greatly outweighed the advantages. 

This has led to a ban being imposed by many countries, the punishment for being caught out breaking this law whilst driving a car is a attracts a fine in excess of US$200 or imprisonment or both. 

In Africa, the use of mobile phones is not punished as much as is the case in Europe.
 
The law says that you cannot operate a hand held phone or similar device while driving. If you need to hold the device to make or receive a call, or perform an interactive communication function, which includes (but is not limited to) sending and receiving of spoken or written messages, sending or receiving still or moving images and providing access to the internet, then it is classified as a hand-held device.

So in other words, if your phone or device needs to be held to transmit or receive data or voice calls, then you can’t use it while driving.

Yes, there is a workaround to this legal menace, as the law states that the device cannot be held, using a hands-free kit allows the driver to communicate using their mobile phones while driving, and stay within the law.

You are allowed to push buttons on a phone while it is in a cradle or on the steering wheel, as the law simply dictates that you must not hold the phone.
 
What about the use of Navigation equipment like GPS devices?  Yes, you may use them, as long as you don’t have to hold them in your hands. 

In other words, they must be mounted in the vehicle.   This law doesn’t count unless your device has interactive communication functions so if you’re just changing song on your iPod, you should be ok.  

So it’s safe and legal to Use your Mobile if you have a hands Free Kit.  Nevertheless, beating the law doesn’t mean that, the practice is completely safe though.

Remember not to be distracted by your phone or device or should an incident occur, you may find yourself up on careless or even dangerous driving charges, regardless of whether you were using hands-free equipment or not. 

Worse still, you could loose concentration on the road, leading to a traffic incident or accident and you could end up regretting having ever bought a hands free kit! 
 
One may pause the question, “what if I haven’t got a hands free kit, do I turn off the phone?”  Of course not, the law does not prohibit you from using your phone, as long as you don’t use it (without a hands free kit) while driving; you could pull up at the roadside and answer the phone or you could pass it over to a passenger in the vehicle and there would be no problem at all!  Once again, you may be wondering as to whether it is allowed to use your phone in a Traffic Jam. 

In principle, the law applies while driving. Driving does, in theory, include times when the driver is stopped at traffic lights or during traffic jams that might occur during a typical journey.  

However if your engine is switched off, the law no longer applies. There is an exception in place in case you find yourself in an emergency situation. You are allowed to call 999 (or 112) in a genuine emergency where it is impractical or unsafe to stop.  

motoringcorner@live.co.uk

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