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Against the Act to use cell phones while driving

Published 28th September 2012, 4:20 pm

The Cayman Islands has reached another milestone in its development with the passing of the new Traffic Act and Regulations.

The new Act and regulations are in step with advances in technology, and Clause 78 introduces a ban on the use of mobile telephones while driving. Therefore, effective 20September, it will be against the Act to talk, text, bbm etc., while driving a car.

“Too many people have become too accustomed to checking e-mail or sending a text while behind the wheel, even though it's as dangerous as drinking and driving,” the Deputy Premier Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said.

“We have lost enough of our youth to speeding, and it our hope that this Act will be a preventive measure and that over time it will change the attitudes of our citizens,” she added.  

She noted that most countries throughout the world such as the United Kingdom and other European countries, New Zealand, Canada and the United States have banned cell phone use while driving.

Director of the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing David Dixon said authorities have likened cell phone usage while driving to that of careless driving and reported that  Car and Driver Magazine has documented just how dangerous it can be.

The magazine and its editors rigged a car with a red light to alert drivers when to brake and tested how long it took drivers to hit the brake when sober, when legally drunk at .08, when reading an e-mail, and when sending a text. The results were scary. Driving 70 miles per hour on a deserted air strip, Car and Driver editor Eddie Alterman was slower and slower reacting and braking when e-mailing and texting by as much as four times.

The good news though, is that the Cayman Islands act does provide some exceptions to using a mobile phone while driving and gives specific instructions on how to properly drive and there is a commonsense approach to it.

For instance, exceptions to the ban apply to:

  1. a constable on duty;
  2. a driver using a mobile telephone to make a 911 call in an emergency, when it is unsafe or impractical to stop and park the vehicle in order to make the emergency call;
  3. a driver who uses a mobile telephone that -
    1. is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle while the mobile telephone is being used; and
    2. does not require the pressing of more than one button on the mobile telephone to make, receive or terminate a telephone call;
  4. a driver who uses a mobile telephone that -
    1. is not secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle; but
    2. does not require the driver to hold, or to manipulate, the mobile telephone in order to make, receive or terminate a telephone call; or
  5. a driver who uses a mobile telephone when the vehicle that he is operating has stopped, having been removed from the normal flow of traffic, and, for this purpose, a vehicle that has stopped in obedience to a traffic sign or traffic signal while awaiting circumstances to develop, which would allow it to proceed, or while awaiting the traffic signal to change shall not be considered to have been removed from the normal flow of traffic.

“Drivers who are found to be in breach of the ban on cell phones while driving will face a fine of $150,” he emphasised.