Drivers in Cape Town who are caught talking on their new or old cell phones without the use of hands-free devices will have their phones taken from them. From the beginning of July, regardless of whether or not it is a first time offence, drivers will have to wait 24-hours before they can get their cell phones back again.
This is the new traffic by-law in the City of Cape Town, passed last year and now ready to come into effect. JP Smith, who is a member of the city’s Mayoral Committee for safety and security, says: “We’re hoping that everybody will finally get the message, grab for those hands-free kits and start using cell phones legally”.
Smith says that the city issues at least 8,000 fines every month for the illegal use of cell phones while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, but notes that the fines do not seem to be having any affect on changing the behavior of chatty drivers. “We must find a more powerful disincentive,” he notes. “Illegal cell phone use, whether speaking, holding a handset or using the buttons to text, is classified as ‘distracted driving’ and is one of the top four most dangerous driving habits, along with speeding, drinking and not wearing safety belts.”
Motorists that have their cell phones confiscated are allowed to remove the memory and SIM cards however, and there is no charge to reclaim the phone.