Tougher penalties must for driving while using mobiles: paper

ABU DHABI, 29th January, 2016 (WAM) — One cannot disagree with Dubai Police for seeking tougher penalties on people using mobile phones while driving. Statistics released by the police on Wednesday showed thousands of drivers wilfully breaking this law each year.

Gulf News in an editorial on Friday said that in 2015, for example, more than 49,643 fines were issued for using mobile phones while driving, a marginal increase from 2014 when 45,499 were caught. Shockingly, of these, 140 were caught on radars. That means these drivers were speeding while on their phones.

A fine of AED 200, in addition to four black points for this violation, is clearly not enough a concern raised by a senior officer. Col Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, Director of Dubai Traffic Police, said the fine is not a strong deterrent as seen by a rise in the number of those committing violations. Earlier, he added, the Federal Traffic Council, had recommended a fine of AED1,000, impounding of cars for 30 days and 12 black points.

Research has shown that mobile phones are a dangerous distraction and seriously impact drivers’ performance in several ways. First of all, being on the phone while driving delays reaction time from using brakes to responding to traffic signals.

Global studies suggest drivers using mobiles are four times more likely to be involved in a collision. Moreover, there is little evidence to prove hands-free devices help or are safer. Besides imposing tougher penalties, authorities must also focus on changing attitude of drivers as their behaviour plays a key role in compliance with road safety regulations.