Durban motorists caught using their cellphones while driving risk having their phones confiscated.
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport is closely watching the effectiveness of a new by-law implemented in the Western Cape this month.
In Cape Town, motorists caught talking or sending messages on their cellphones are fined R500 and have their phones confiscated for a day, even if it is a first offence.
KZN transport spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said that if Cape Town’s new by-law yields the desired results of reducing road accidents and casualties, the province would consider implementing it.
The initiative was still in its pilot phase, and if it proved to be successful, the department might also implement it.
Ncalane added that KZN was the first province to call for traffic regulations to be tightened so that offenders would begin to feel the heat.
eThekwini metro police spokesman Eugene Msomi said the number of motorists who drove while using their cellphones in Durban was alarming.
The metro police were looking at a number of different models that would significantly reduce this number.
“We want to create a database for motorists and repeat offenders who use their cellphones while driving. Currently motorists are fined R500 every time they are caught… We want that to increase to R1 000 if you are caught for the second time and arrest you if you are caught for the third time,” he said.
Automobile Association spokesman Gary Ronald said confiscating cellphones was an innovative way of approaching a problem which seemed not to be working using normal channels of enforcement.
“I think there will be legal challenges about the validity of confiscating someone’s property… The dangers of distracted driving far outweighs the benefits of being in touch with people.
“Research shows that even using a hands-free kit, the driver’s attention is on the conversation rather than on the road. That is more lethal than driving completely drunk,” Ronald said.