- Bigger UK penalties dwarf those of SA
- Increase follows four dead in freeway crash
- Actually, if you phone and drive, you’re stupid
LONDON, England – The UK government has just doubled the minimum penalty for using a cellphone while driving a vehicle.
Will the South African authorities follow suite?
The move, announced on November 8 2016, warns that anybody caught using (and admitting to using) a hand-held mobile phone while at the wheel will be looking at a £200 (close to R3500 in SA rands in November 2016) and score six disqualification points on their driving licence – also double the existing penalty.
R42 500 PENALTY FOR TRUCKERS
The maximum penalty that can be handed down by a British court, however, is the equivalent of R17 000 for a car driver or R42 500 if driving a bus or truck. SA road law provides for R500 to R5000 – though as you are/are not using a phone is easy to distinguish.
The UK issue was brought into sharp focus a few days earlier when truck driver Tomasz Kroker was jailed for 10 years for causing a crash that killed a family of four in their car.
Not only was he using his cellphone when he crashed… a video camera in his cab caught him doing it.
The IAM’s Neil Greig told The Corner in a media release: “Addressing the growing problem of smartphone use while driving will require a combination of enforcement and education – and drivers, passengers, companies and individuals taking more responsibility.”
TECH ANSWER NEEDED FROM AUTOMAKERS
Greig added that his organisation was disappointed that the penalties would still not include a compulsory re-education course “to break our apparent addiction to being constantly connected”.
“We also want to see car companies, cellphone makers and social media providers working together to develop technical solutions to halt phone use in vehicle.
“It is essential that drivers get a clear message that, if you are on the phone and have a fatal crash, you can expect to go to prison for a long time.
“There is a lot of support among the driving public for stronger penalties and more enforcement but we feel this is not always reflected in sentencing.”