Cape Town - 120705 - Traffic services held a cell phone confiscation operation on Thursday, enforcing the new Traffic by-law - sect 33(1) (a) r/w 39 PN 6892 of 2011. Reporter: Sibusiso Nkomo PICTURE: DAVID RITCHIE

Cape Town traffic officials have confiscated 100 cellphones from mostly middle-aged drivers since a by-law was implemented in April, says Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith.

He looked at the ID numbers of the suspects and found most were born in 1970 (and) earlier “which meant they were 42 and older”.

“The younger generation knows how to use hands-free kits while older drivers still prefer to hold their cellphone in one hand and drive with the other,” Smith said.

The by-law was implemented to curb drivers from using their cellphone while they drive.

Drivers will have their devices confiscated if they break the law and can collect it 24 hours later, on paying a R500 fine.

Smith said the by-law would be applied across the city in the next three months, which would see traffic officials working with Metro Police and the city’s Law Enforcement Unit.

“At the moment there are only 12 traffic officers who are trained to impound cellphones.

“We are planning to roll out the impoundment to the rest of city, but there are still about 1500 officers who need to be trained,” Smith said.

He said the cellphones confiscated were mainly Blackberry and Nokia.

The 12 cellphones that have yet to be collected range from the “ultra cheap” to “exquisite” smartphones.

“I do not know why people do not want their cellphones back. We will auction uncollected cellphones after three months. The supply of containers in which we keep the cellphones is limited.

“This means we store newly confiscated cellphones in old boxes and we could have problems if the number increases,” Smith said.

The success of the by-law will only be felt in the near future.

“For now we will only impound in the city centre. I have seen an increase in the number of motorists who have bought hands-free kits and traffic officers have told me there are fewer motorists on the roads who use their cellphone while they driving.” - Cape Times