Data compiled by the traf fic branch of the Pune police shows that more than 8,000 errant drivers have already been booked for the offence, this year since January .
The tally so far, with about 40 days before the year-end, is almost double that of 2014 and a four-fold increase over 2013.By law, use of cellphone phones while driving is a punishable offence with a fine that can go up to Rs 1,000.
According to senior traffic police officials, the trend is rampant among those driving four-wheelers including cab drivers and the practice of two-wheeler riders wedging the phone in the space between the ear and the helmet, or balancing it between the shoulder and head to talk while holding the handlebar is equally common.
According to a road safety expert, modern day pressures of being `available’ always and of responding to text messages instantly and the stress of not missing a call is causing drivers of all age groups to throw caution to wind when they check their phones even while halting at traffic signals, navigating through heavy traffic, or even when speeding on the highway .
International research has shown that using the headphones to speak on the cellphone does not lower the risk of an accident because cognitive distraction of a driver talking on the phone is enough to cause him to misjudge, or even completely miss a potential road risk.
It’s a practice that endangers not only the life of the driver, but also of other road users, deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Sarang Award said. The Pune police have started a concerted drive against those who talk or text while driving their cars or riding two-wheelers.
“It is dangerous because driving involves the use of multiple senses simultaneously and both the hands and the legs. The number of those breaking the rule every day , whether challaned by the police or not, is worrying. While we don’t differentiate between talking and texting to penalize the offender, the former is more common. However, texting is extremely dangerous, because the driver does not have his eyes on the road for even five seconds,“ he added.
Most conversations while driving can actually wait till the drivers reach their destinations, said Rajendra Sidhaye, chairman of the Save Pune Traffic Movement.
“Using cellphones while driving is absolutely dangerous as it has become the indirect cause of road accidents. It is best to pull over on the side of the road if something on the cellphone needs urgent attention,“ he said, adding that stricter enforcement of the law by police teams is the only way to curb the practice.
The four-fold increase in the number of people pulled up for talking on their cellphones and texting while driving is not only alarming but also shows utter disdain towards traffic rules and safety. The situation has become so bad that leave alone sparing a thought for the lives of other road users, violators are unmindful of their own personal safety. It is imperative to have harsh punishments, including prohibitive fines, and cancellation of driving licences.It may be the only hope for safety on roads in the city.
ACROSS THE WORLDv Saudi Arabia, South Africa and South Korea top a list of countries whose citizens are most likely to engage in distracted driving behaviours. In Saudi Arabia, 43% of respondents to a September 2013 survey said they text, email or use social email while behind the wheel. In South Africa, it was 41%. South Korea logged 33%. In the US, it was 27% and in Japan it was 18%.
Police in China have been cracking down on distracted drivers since 2013, according to a US headset maker. Plantronics reported a surge in its sales in China due to the new hands-free law. The 2013 poll found 27% of Chinese drivers engaged in texting, email or social media.
DEATH WHILE TAKING SELFIE
A 32-year-old North Carolina woman died after slamming her car head-on into a truck while posting selfies and a Facebook update about how happy she was while listening to a Pharrell song. Courtney Sanford, of High Point, crossed the median of a busy road after making the post, hit a recycling truck and died, police said. Further inspection of her cellphone revealed pictures posted online only minutes earlier.
The last words Sanford shared with her friends?
`The happy song makes me HAPPY.’ Authorities said the post, visible only to her friends, was made at 8.33am., the first 911 call received about the crash was one minute later.
Source : TOI