The High Court of Nainital, Uttarakhand, has asked law enforcement agencies to seize the phones of those caught talking on their mobile phone while driving or riding. This is just one of the many stringent measures the court has ordered to improve road safety in the hill state, which has recently seen a spate of fatal accidents. The court has asked the transport department to seize the mobile phones of offenders for a period of 24 hours, for which the transport department will also issue a receipt. However, the new order is a lot more lenient than the one that the high court passed last month, when it ordered licenses of violators to be cancelled and that they be slapped with a hefty Rs. 5,000 fine.
Talking on mobile phones while driving or riding is rampant in India as almost every person in a car or a two-wheeler now possesses a phone. While some cars now offer built-in hands-free systems that allow people to keep their eyes on the road and take calls while driving, a lot of cars are yet to get these systems. As for two-wheelers, some riders use earphones to talk on the mobile phone while riding, while most violators continue to sandwich the phone between their ears and shoulders. Usage of mobile phone during riding and driving has led to many accidents in India, and the latest order by the Uttarakhand High Court is aimed at deterring such offenders.
While hands-free devices do reduce the risks of accidents during driving or riding while talking on a mobile phone, using phones while driving/riding is still an activity that can distract the driver heavily. It’s always a better practice to pull over to receive or make calls. Texting must be avoided at all costs as it’s even more distracting than talking on the phone. While traffic laws in most parts of India fine offenders for usage of mobile phone while riding or driving, fines are quite nominal, between Rs. 100 and Rs. 300. This does not seem to be deterring enough people from breaking the law. The orders passed by the Uttarakhand High Court have much more potential to deter offenders.