Such motorists can be made to remit fine and also to attend community service or do driver refresher training.
The Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) would continue the clamp down on motorists who use hands-free communication devices while driving, even as it faced widespread ridicule in the form of social-media trolls, official sources said.
This is in accordance with the Motor Vehicles Act, which prohibits the use of any portable device, be it hand held or hands free, to communicate. This is because the impact of communicating on any hand held or other device is akin to becoming temporarily blind to the surroundings. It is similar to laptop serving the same purpose — be it used while kept on the lap or otherwise, a senior MVD official said.
Earlier, the offence attracted penalty in the form of suspension of driving licence. Now, such motorists can be made to remit fine and also to attend community service or do driver refresher training. This is because the offence is now considered as ‘dangerous driving’ in the amendment made to Central Motor Vehicles’ Act, said Arun C D, Motor Vehicle Inspector, Ernakulam RTO office.
“It has now become tough to detect the offence since most people wear mask and drive. Still, alert personnel can detect it. Details like call records are collected if there is an accident and a doubt arises that a motorist was speaking/communicating over any device while it occurred. Research done worldwide shows that 20 % of accidents are caused by distractions caused by cell phone usage. This is more than the per centage of accidents caused by drunk driving,” Mr Arun said.
The sole exception as per rules, is relying on such devices that are mounted on the dashboard sans affecting the driver’s concentration, for route navigation, MVD sources said.
The Director of Institute of Driver Training and Research, Edappal, P.M. Mohammed Najeeb, who is a doctorate holder in driver psychology said that the perception process happens in the brain. Hearing, seeing and speaking are interlinked. A cell phone – whether it is hand held or hands-free impairs all these faculties and increases the possibility of accident by four times. Safe driving is possible only if a driver is able to scan the entire road.
“The focusing of the attention of hearing will impair his other senses, mainly that of sight. He will fail to assess his vehicle’s speed and its distance with other vehicles, resulting possibly in collision with other vehicles or veering off the road. A similar thing happens when he quarrels with co-passengers or is focused on discussing a serious topic in depth. The social media outburst that followed when the MVD began enforcing the rule is nothing but issues being raked up for arguments’ sake,” Mr Najeeb, who retired from MVD as Deputy Transport Commissioner said.
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