It’s not been an easy two months for motorists who want to take the law for a ride. After bringing drunk and rash drivers to book, the Mumbai traffic police has trained its guns on motorists who talk on the phone while driving
Why you must obey
A recent study by the University of Utah says:
* Motorists who talk on either hand-held or hands-free mobile phones drive slightly slower. They are nine percent slower on the brakes and display 24 per cent more variation in maintaining distance since their attention switches between driving and conversing. They are 19 per cent slower to resume normal speed after braking and are more likely to crash.
* A study conducted by the university in 2001 shows that hands-free cell phones are just as distracting as hand-held phones.
* A similar study by the university in 2003 dealt with ‘inattention blindness’. Motorists looked directly at road conditions but didn’t really see them because they were distracted by a phone conversation. They weren’t aware they were impaired.
* A 2005 study suggested that when teenagers and young adults talk on cell phones while driving, their reaction times are as slow as those of elderly drivers.
What were you talking about?
Speak Up asks city’s motorists what was the all-important call they had to answer while at the wheel
The other day, my girlfriend called when I was on my way to office. We hardly spend time together and she had called to fix up a date later that day. I tried hanging up after fixing the time, but as it happens, the call lasted for about 10 minutes.
—Vinit Hegde. Santacruz
Usually, I avoid talking on the phone while driving. The last time I did so was when I was driving on the Western Express Highway to Malad. It was Parent’s Day and I was headed for my child’s school. My husband called while I was on my way. He doesn’t call unless it’s urgent, which is why I answered the phone. He wanted to remind me about something important and we spoke for a good three minutes.
—Chaya Gopal. Malad
Yesterday, I was on my way to Vile Parle to meet a client. My boss called up to remind me about certain points to be discussed with the client. There was no way I could have cut that call. My boss calls up only when it’s important and I spent only 3-4 minutes on the phone.
—Suchit Bansal. Kandivali
Two days ago, I received a call from my friend’s wife when I was driving.
Now, this friend usually doesn’t answer his wife’s calls. On that day, his wife fell in the bathroom and wanted him to come home fast. Of course, he wasn’t answering her calls. I was driving to Bandra when she called and asked me to pass on the message to her husband.’
—Anurag Gour. Goregaon
No call can be that urgent
I don’t use the mobile phone while driving. If I do get a a call that is very important, I prefer parking my car at the side before answering the phone. I support the traffic police’s campaign against motorists who use the phone while driving. I am a law-abiding citizen and I support any law that makes our city safer.
I don’t think the rule was made to inconvenience drivers, as is being alleged. I don’t think the police are asking for too much. Citizens should realise that the government is concerned about their safety and is enforcing this rule only to cut down on accidents.
It is also necessary to understand that no phone call, however urgent, can be more important than your own life. It is better to follow the rules and avoid accidents than to be the cause of injury to yourself and others.
—Harpreet Singh. Corporate consultant
Even cops break the rules
While driving, I usually talk using a bluetooth device or put the phone on speaker mode. In a city like Mumbai, where people lead hectic lives and travel a lot during the day, it’s virtually impossible not to answer calls. It’s not like I have very long conversations on the phone. It’s more like ‘Hey, wassup, I’m driving. I’ll call you back, mate.’
I know that I’m breaking the law, but as long as it is not causing serious harm to either me or others on the street, I don’t see anything wrong with it.
Anyway, how many people obey the law? These things happen all the time all over the city. I’m sure even cops do it. Do they use the breathalyser on themselves or wear helmets while riding bikes? If they want citizens to follow rules, our law enforcers need to practise what they preach.
—Palash Bose. Photographer
It’s illegal, why do you do it?
What could be the reason behind so many citizens violating the mobile phone rule? Speak Up finds out
I’m addicted to my mobile phone and have to literally switch it off while driving. I only keep it on when I am expecting urgent calls. There are many things declared illegal, but we still do them. This is a far lesser evil.
—Saurabh Ray. Andheri
As far as possible, I don’t answer the phone while driving, but if the call is from office or from home, I have to answer it. I cannot continue driving peacefully if I don’t attend these calls. Anyway, accidents happen only when you don’t have control over your car. I have no such issues and am in complete command of the vehicle when I am at the wheel.
—Shadab Khan. Jogeshwari
It’s not like I’m addicted to my phone. It’s just that I have to answer the phone when it rings, even if I am driving at that time. Usually, I forget that what I am doing could be dangerous for me and for others. The realisation comes after I am through with the call.
— Ryan Joseph. Bandra