It is an undeniable fact that using a mobile phone, whether hand-held or hands-free, is an unhealthy practice. The practice is as distracting as it is dangerous to any driver and, therefore, not safe.
It is believed that the practice is likely to impair the concentration of drivers, as there is lack of awareness of other road users and traffic, and, therefore, four times likely to cause a crash.
Since July 6, 2012, a new law banning the use of mobile phones while driving has been passed by Parliament and is in force.
Under the new Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 (L. I. 2180) using mobile phones while driving is banned, and that drivers would also not have the option of using the hands-free either.
The law states that “the use of hand held communication devices such as mobile phones to make or receive calls, send or receive messages or access the internet while driving will be illegal.”
The law further prescribes that drivers caught sending text messages or using an ear piece will be made to face the law.
We are informed that one of the main aims of the law is to “eliminate certain practices by drivers that lead to avoidable road accidents.”
The practices, according to the new law, include the use of mobile phones and the operation of television monitors on the dash board of vehicles when driving.
In spite of the dangers of the practice and the law, drivers have damned the consequences and continue to use the phone while driving. They send or read a text message and often use a smart application, including whatsapp.
Though the law might be fairly new to the public, six years of its passage is long a period for personnel of the Motor Traffic and Transport Directorate (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service to be conversant with the provisions and enforce them.
The MTTD is the wing of the Ghana Police Service responsible for road safety in Ghana and mandated to enforce all road traffic laws and regulations.
Its effectiveness must be felt by not relenting in the discharge of its mandate, namely, spot, warn and arrest offending motorists. It must not end there. The traffic offenders must be prosecuted without fear of favour. After all, it is common knowledge that ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
The MTTD must also live by its mandate and take education and training to road users on accident-free road practices.
We wish to offer a few safety driving tips for the driver such as turning off the phone before starting the journey; avoid using the mobile phone, even with hands-free technology, and parking at a safe place to make or receive a call if there is the urgent need for that.
The best practice is to keep the phone off and focus on driving.
The Chronicle is anxiously looking forward to the day a driver (no matter who), who uses the phone while driving is arrested and charged with careless and dangerous driving, and either fined or sentenced to a prison term.
In the view of The Chronicle, it is only the prohibition of use of the devices in this telephony era that would greatly minimise accidents on the roads and prevent the loss of precious lives.