By law, no one in South Africa is allowed to use a hand-held communication device while driving. FilepPicture: Dumisani Dube/ANA
By law, no one in South Africa is allowed to use a hand-held communication device while driving.

This includes a cellphone, microphone or other communication devices, according to the South African National Road Traffic Act.

However, motorists are increasingly endangering the lives of others on the road. The bad habit seems to be growing and such driver distractions are fatal.

On Monday, when I was in a taxi travelling to Pretoria from Hammanskraal, our vigilant driver spotted a minivan veering to the right lane from the left without indicating. It almost hit us. Our driver had to steer the taxi off the road to avoid the collision.

The minivan driver did not notice what was going on behind him as he was glued to his phone. He moved back to the left lane and went on his way. As I looked out of the window, he still had his eyes on his phone while his vehicle was moving at no less than 80km/h. That he had almost caused an accident had not registered.

I was fuming and wanted to tell him how I felt about his reckless, irresponsible driving.

When did our lives become so insignificant? How did we get to the point where a chat, status update or Twitter response became more important than life itself?

My anger was fuelled by something that happened on Friday night on my way to Zebediela, Limpopo.

I was driving on a two-lane, freshly tarred road about 7.30pm, doing about 110km/* up a hill as the road had endless hills and curves.

I wondered why I was seeing too many lights from oncoming cars until it dawned on me that these strong, heightened lights were from two trucks, the one overtaking the other on an uphill, driving at the same speed, if not faster, than I was.

Yet again I risked losing my life, to another form of reckless driving.

I was on the road for 2500km, averaging 625km a day. At no point did I not sleep for less than six hours. I never tried to play with my phone while behind the wheel. I stopped at garages to get water and stretch my legs. I stopped on the side of the road, put my hazards on if I needed to make calls and use my phone navigator.

It is about the safety of all road users. It is about taking responsibility.

It is one thing to have an accident because your car brakes fail or a wheel bursts. A driver may have no control over such things.

It is a different story for you to break all the laws on the road and put all our lives in danger.

Let us stop texting and driving.

You often see a handsome man or gorgeous woman in an expensive German car with a fancy cellphone, driving and texting. It is disheartening that the impressive car is occupied by a very poor mind that sees nothing wrong with texting and driving.

Clearly, the law will not help us in such unfortunate situations; the individual must make the decision to be more responsible on the roads.

According to the Arrive Alive website, the use of cellphones while driving has increased significantly among road user distractions in recent years.

The distraction includes not just talking but all of the other activities that can be performed on a smartphone.

Our cellphones now enable us to make calls, send and receive text messages while driving, send and receive audio and video messages, browse the internet, and participate in conversations on social media platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp, WeChat, Mxit and Twitter.

Many of the accidents that happen on our roads these days are avoidable and not the result of unfortunate circumstances.

Please, people, abide by the law. No text or audio message is more important than the precious gift of life. Let's stop texting and driving.

* Kabelo Chabalala is the founder of the Young Men Movement. Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @KabeloJay; Facebook: Kabelo Chabalala

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