When you are behind the wheel, driving is your only job
Texting and driving is a risk to all innocent road users, including the perpetrator.
Regulation 308A prohibits the use of communication devices while driving and states that NO driver is permitted to use a hand-held communication device while driving. This includes a cell phone, microphone or other communication device, as per the South African National Road Traffic Act. It is worthwhile noting that Officials are also no longer exempted from texting and driving (even if it is in the course of their duties).
Cell phones can only be used if they are not being held in your hand i.e. using a hands-free device. If the vehicle is running but not moving (i.e. stopped at a traffic light) you are considered to be driving and thus cannot use your cell phone to text, take / make calls, take photos, browse the internet or participate on social media platforms.
Unfortunately, even though these laws exist, they are not always adhered to, making distracted driving (after alcohol and speeding) one of the three biggest causes of road accidents in South Africa, with the use of cell phones while driving one of the top causes of risky driver distraction. However texting and driving is a difficult offence to enforce and prosecute. Because of this, there is and ever increasing need for new and improved hands-free technology. Vehicle manufacturers makers and their suppliers are doing their part by working on full voice activation systems that will allow drivers to send and receive text messages using voice only.
According to a 2015 article in the Huffington Post by Erin Schumaker, some seriously eye-opening statistics include:-
- 9 Number of Americans killed every day from motor vehicle accidents that involved distracted driving, such as using a cell phone, texting or eating.
- 2 Number of seconds a driver can safely glance away from the road while operating a motor vehicle.
- 5 Number of seconds drivers take their eyes off the road to send a text message, on average.
The truth of the matter is that drivers are most definitely distracted by taking their hand off the wheel to use their phone, by trying to read small text on the phone display and by thinking about how to write their message and can spend up to 400 percent more time with their eyes on the phone instead of on the road. According to Arrive Alive drivers who sent or read text messages are more prone to drift out of their lane, with steering control by texting drivers 91 percent poorer than that of drivers devoting their full concentration to the road. Texting and driving reduces the ability to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front. It is almost incomprehensible that even though 40 percent of drivers have hands-free kits, 80 percent of their calls are made without using these devices.
5 Reasons why NOT to text and drive
- You are 4 times more likely to have an accident if you use a cell phone when driving
- Using your cell phone when driving affects your driving competence, resulting in a 37% decrease in parietal lobe activity in the brain.
- When people take a call or try to text while driving, they start to drive erratically, slowing down and then making a correction, and increasing their speed.
- South Africa has one of the highest road accident rates in the world, with around 25 percent of those accidents caused by cell phone use while driving.
- Texting reduces reaction times of driver by up to 35 percent.
Driving while texting is dumb, potentially deadly and against the law
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