Using handphones while riding and driving - Jail them?

The use of mobile phones while driving and riding has been identified as the main cause of road accidents in the country. Pix by Effendy Rashid
Home News2016
Mobile phone use main cause of road accidents
By Bernama - June 25, 2016 @ 5:57pm
BENTONG: The use of mobile phones while driving and riding has been identified as the main cause of road accidents in the country. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the ministry would ask the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) to conduct a study to show that it was a serious matter that needed to be given attention by road users. “Actually the phone has changed our lives tremendously with the creation of various applications such as WhatsApp and multimedia messages. “It has also changed the question of road safety and can become very dangerous when we use it to surf the websites, take pictures or find locaitons while driving a car or riding a motorcycle,” he told reporters after launching the 18th Yamaha Balik Kampung Road Safety campaign here today … for more, go to

Using handphones while riding and driving - Jail them?

The Bloomberg news feature titled “Laws aren’t stopping cellphone-using Americans behind the wheel” should capture the attention of the rest of the world governments.

If the use of cellphones behind the wheel has become a national worry in an educated and developed nation, what more in others?

“The problem is not unique to the US. It is a global problem and Malaysia is no exception,” Gerakan Deputy Speaker Syed Abdul Razak Alsagoff said.

He said the use of mobile phones while driving and riding had not only become the main cause of road accidents in the country, “it is a growing concern and problem”.

“In fact, it is arguably the fastest growing traffic offence nationwide. And, it appears to be growing unabated,” he added.

“Just like what is happening in the US, laws banning handheld phone use behind the wheel seem to have little effect in Malaysia.

“Malaysian drivers and riders continue to ignore traffic safety - for themselves and others on the road,” he added.

Text for image, go to:
Please do not text and drive!
Friday, 27 Jan 2017
by brian martin
Foolhardy: Errant, reckless drivers who text while driving are committing a traffic offence and endangering lives.
UNLESS and until technology advances to an extent that all our cars are equipped with heads-up or projection capability, the mobile phone will be the death of us. Scientists have already warned us about health risks associated with prolonged usage of cell phones, but there is a clear and present danger when the ubiquitous handphone becomes an unnecessary distraction when driving. If you think I’m exaggerating, on your next commute, try counting the number of drivers you see on the road who are holding, talking or looking at their phones. I’m willing to bet that this number will be in double digits in the space of five to 10 minutes. Mobile phone usage while driving has long been reported as dangerous. Studies in Britain and the United States have shown that mobile phone usage causes as many as one in four car accidents. That’s 25% of all accidents involving improper use of a mobile phone in some way … for more, go to

Syed Razak, who is Gerakan’s nominee to contest N.37 Bukit Lanjan in the coming 14th General Election (GE14), asked: “Why are Malaysians still ignoring their own safety and the law?

“Until driverless automated vehicles hit the roads, perhaps the punishments should be harsher for those who continue to use handphones while driving or riding.

“Hefty fines may also not be enough as a deterrent. Imposing mandatory jail sentences many be a more effective deterrent,” he added.

Read the following news feature that is both educating and thought-provoking about the problem in the US, and also in Malaysia, as posted by The Star Online:

"Laws aren’t stopping cellphone-using Americans behind the wheel

Tuesday, 20 Mar 2018
6:00 AM MYT
by kyle stock

A recent study by the US National Safety Council, a non-profit that partners with national regulators, found that only about half of fatal crashes tied to mobile phone use were coded as such in federal databases. — AFP Relaxnews
Safety regulators still have no idea just how deadly the combination of mobile phones and cars can be, but mounting evidence paints a grim picture. 

The latest disconcerting data come from a massive study by Zendrive, a San Francisco-based startup that tracks phone use for automobile insurers and ride-hailing fleets. Of the 2.3 million drivers it monitored over 5.6 billion miles, some 12% were characterised as mobile-phone addicts – calling, texting or scrolling through apps three times more than the average driver. 

“Without decisive action and a lot of education, it will be difficult to see the trend reverse,” said Zendrive co-founder and chief executive officer Jonathan Matus. “We’re just starting and I feel like it’s still an uphill battle.” 

What’s more, laws banning handheld phone use seemed to have little effect. In the 15 US states that have such measures in place, the share of phone addicts only dropped by two points, from 12% of drivers to 10%. “That’s an area of great concern to me,” Matus said. “It means either the rules are not known, the enforcement is not effective or people are so addicted to their phones they’re willing to take the risk.” 

If recent fatalities are any measure, all three of those conditions seem to be likely. After decades of gradual declines, US road deaths surged by 14.4% between 2014 and 2016. The largest fatality spikes were among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, all of whom are relatively easy to miss from behind the wheel for a driver glancing at a text message. 

It’s anyone’s guess how many of those deaths are tied to drivers making a quick call or finishing an email. Most police accident reports still don’t include a box to record mobile-phone distraction as a cause for a crash or collision. Meanwhile, prosecutors find it easier to pursue charges on speeding and drinking, given that mobile-phone records take longer to obtain and often aren’t determinative. 

A recent study by the US National Safety Council, a non-profit that partners with national regulators, found that only about half of fatal crashes tied to mobile phone use were coded as such in federal databases. 

The highest percentages of high-risk drivers were found in a broad swath of the south. 

Zendrive may be providing the clearest view of the problem. It’s technology piggy-backs on apps such as GasBuddy and taps into a phone’s sensors and GPS to see when it’s in use and at what speed it’s traveling. It sells this analysis to insurers looking to refine risk profiles, as well as safety conscious apps like HopSkipDrive, a ride-hailing service parents can use to cart their kids to and from soccer practice. “It’s kind of like an X-ray vision superpower,” Matus said of his application. 

Still, even Zendrive is likely discounting the danger somewhat. Its platform only records phone use when the device is actually moving around inside a car, like from your jacket pocket to your hand. An Uber driver who paws away at an iPhone mounted on a dashboard isn’t captured. 

The only good news to be had from the Zendrive data is that its figures aren’t higher. It appears that the habits of a reckless few may be skewing statistics for everyone else on the road. All told, less than one third of drivers monitored were flagged for risky behaviour. A respectable 71% didn’t exhibit any worrisome tendencies. 

“Unfortunately, 30% of 200 million (drivers) is a pretty large number,” Matus said. 

Beyond phone abusers, the company found that 9% of drivers accelerated and braked aggressively, a demographic that Zendrive dubbed “frustrated lead-footers.” Meanwhile, a separate 8% were characterised as speed demons, who zoom past limits almost six times more than the average driver. 

States in New England and the Pacific Northwest had the greatest share of low-risk drivers, while the biggest percentages of high-risk drivers were found in a broad swath of the south running from New Mexico to Georgia and Florida. 

For those looking to avoid distracted drivers, the best bet is deep in the Rocky Mountains. Montana, Wyoming and Idaho posted the lowest numbers on cellphone use. Of course, service in those places can be spotty. — Bloomberg



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