Cape Town - Loquacious motorists who insist on driving and talking had their cellphones confiscated on Thursday morning in an operation by traffic officials.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, accompanied officers in an unmarked ghost squad vehicle who stopped three motorists and impounded their devices.
“We had a head-on collision with attitude from the southern suburbs,” Smith said.
“We started in the CBD and moved up into the residential areas, off the main routes - I’ve had complaints that we only tackle the freeways.
“Every morning when I leave my home I also see loads of talkers.”
“But, as Murphy’s Law would have it, we saw no talkers in the suburbs. So we went up Nelson Mandela Boulevard and pulled three cars off just below the University of Cape Town.
“The first guy claimed ignorance - he was holding his phone against his steering wheel.
“The next two, both women, were highly belligerent. One said she had only taken a photograph, not phoned or texted, but the officer explained to her that one is forbidden from operating a phone in any way, by hand.”
The trio were fined R500 each.
Their handsets were sealed in boxes; they would be able to collect their phones on Friday morning, 24 hours later, once they’d paid a R1000 release fee.
“I think we’re seeing an improvement,” Smith reported, “but we still saw three people talking in 60 seconds, while we were fining one driver.
“It’ll be like alcohol and roadblocks - people will only start changing their behaviour when everybody knows somebody who’s had a phone confiscated.”
Cellphone use was “one of the four big killers - speed, alcohol, safety belts and distracted driving”.
All traffic units are now able to confiscate cellphones - initially it was only the ghost squad.