Mobile phones and driving, it’s a strange subject. Our country’s rules don’t address them clearly enough. According to the Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 the usage of a mobile device while driving is a punishable offence. However, it mentions nothing about hands-free bluetooth devices and this is the grey area that I have a problem with. The police maintain that using hands-free devices are just as illegal as holding the device to your ear. I beg to differ.
Right, so let’s break down why this law exists. The rule was implemented as it was found that a number of road accidents took place while drivers were talking on a mobile phone. But why do these accidents take place? Is it because drivers didn’t have enough attention on the roads? Or is it because they didn’t have their hands on the wheel? Could be either. Or both. I don’t have figures to back my claim, but I am pretty certain that it is the latter more than the former.
If both your hands aren’t on the wheel at all times, yes, you are a hazard to other drivers. If you’re in a manual car, you’re going to attempt all sorts of calisthenics to change gears without interrupting your call and even if you’re in an automatic, you don’t have complete control over your vehicle unless both your hands are resting on the wheel. So if you are holding your device to your ear while driving, I can’t defend you. You are being irresponsible and you deserve to be fined, or put in the slammer, or whatever the coppers deem necessary.
But a handsfree? I don’t see how that is a problem. Both your hands are on the wheel and you have got complete control of the vehicle. Nowadays you can even pickup and end calls without your hands even leaving the steering wheel. If you’re saying the driver is distracted while taking on a handsfree, he’s probably equally distracted while talking to a fellow passenger. If that’s the case, why don’t we go ahead and just ban talking in cars, eh? Or even better, make driving with another person in the car illegal. They’re a distraction, aren’t they? God forbid they hold a conversation with the driver, and that could force him to lose attention and crash his car! Oh no, that cannot be permitted. BAN, BAN, BAN!
The blanket ban on mobile devices while driving, even on ones with handsfree capabilities, needs to be rethought of and updated — and this is but one of India’s archaic laws that needs to change. Tech has come a long way and it is no longer a hazard to road safety, if used correctly.
Still think handsfree devices are a hazard? Write in, and I’ll be more than willing to engage in some healthy debate.