Cape Town authorities are considering amending the traffic by-law to allow traffic officers to confiscate cellphones from motorists after the first offence.
In just three months, more than 1600 city motorists were caught using their cellphones. A traffic officer is allowed to confiscate a cellphone after a third offence.
Evidence has shown that using a cellphone while driving is more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol.
Between October and December traffic services recorded 1696 cellphone-related offences. In the same period, 1479 drunk drivers were nabbed. Between October and December 2010, 1542 cellphone-related offences were recorded.
JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security, said motorists using cellphones was the biggest problem on Cape Town’s roads.
The AA found that 7 percent of motorists were either talking on their phones or SMSing while driving. The AA has also pointed to evidence that “driver distraction” was six times more dangerous than driving drunk.
Smith said the by-law was intended to confiscate a cellphone after a third offence. This section of the by-law was set to have been implemented this month.
However, it depended on the launch of a computer system to capture offending motorist’s details.
Smith said some technological problems still had to be ironed out. If these were not sorted out soon, he would push to amend the by-law.