Clamp down on drive and dial

2012-07-07 20:29

The City of Cape Town’s decision to confiscate mobile phones from those who dial and drive extends to other communication devices like iPads – so think again before you check your tablet in Cape traffic.

The city’s traffic bylaw, which was first tabled before council last May, bars people from driving “while holding a cellular or mobile telephone or any other communication device in one or both hands or with any other part of the body”.

Now that it’s been enacted, the bylaw will see offenders’ devices confiscated for 24 hours.

Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith confirmed that the ban included all hand-held devices.

“This is to prevent drivers from being distracted,” Smith said.

During a blitz on Thursday, Smith and a team of traffic officers confiscated 16 mobile phones from drivers in the city.

“This was far less use than we feared,” he said.

Smith said the compliance rate among Cape Town drivers was impressive.

“But I (had) hoped to find no cellphones,” he said.

He said no drivers fought or resisted arrest, although some were angry at being among the first to be bust and the presence of press photographers also irritated some, Smith said.

“One woman told us she was ‘just taking this call’ and didn’t normally use her cellphone when driving,” Smith said.

He said another woman driver started crying when told she had been seen talking on her mobile phone the previous week.

“It was easy to identify her because of her unique, personalised number plate,” Smith said.

Smith defended the decision to confiscate mobile phones, saying it would help save lives.

Drivers are issued with a receipt when the phone or device is confiscated, and told when and where to reclaim it.

Hands-free sets or devices specially designed or adapted to allow drivers to use cellphones or other communication devices without holding them in one or both hands, or with any other part of the body, are permitted.

But it’s not just chatty drivers who are targeted in the bylaw: it also attempts to silence the city’s famous conductors and loud taxis blasting music.

“No public transport service conductor or any other person may engage in touting,” reads the bylaw – suggesting that the city’s famous cry of “Mowbray Kaap” may be silenced.

Playing offensive or excessively loud music and using obscene or offensive language is also prohibited on public transport vehicles.

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