Mobile phones have become an integral part of our lives, so much so that we can barely imagine a disconnected existence without them. It is a proven fact, however, that speaking on a mobile phone, texting or connecting to the internet whilst driving puts other road users around us at incredible risk.
There are solutions, and having a good hands free system that is used for short message calls is advisable; having a long winded chat that may distract you, however, is not. Modern technology allows for instant pre-programmed voice recognition dialling which further negates the need for anyone to touch their phones while driving.
Extensive research has been done concluding that using a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of a road accident by at least four-fold.1 Recent research carried out on the TRL (UK Transport Research Laboratory) simulator have shown a clear trend for significantly poorer driving performance (speed control and response time) when using a hand-held phone in comparison to other conditions. Driving without phone conversations came out tops, while hands-free was better than hand-held.
The most alarming piece of evidence to come out of this TRL simulator testing was that texting while driving also affected reaction-time performance more than driving while over the legal limit for alcohol, but less than driving when using a hand held phone. It was also measured that the complexity of the conversation in which the driver is engaging has a bearing on his driving performance.
"We have seen several high profile court cases overseas where drivers have been jailed for dangerous driving as a result of phoning or texting, and hope that this attitude of no tolerance for the same will be adopted in South Africa," says the AA. "While it would be unrealistic to ban phone use in the car, we need to ensure that South Africans are aware of the dangers and repercussions of reckless phoning while driving," the AA concludes.
1Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (the Stewart report)
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
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