KUALA LUMPUR: Over 46,000 police summonses were issued to motorists for using their mobile phones while driving in 2016, an increase of almost 4,000 from last year.
In an interview with FMT, Bukit Aman Traffic Investigation and Enforcement director Mahamad Akhir Darus said for the past few years, police have been issuing tens of thousands of summonses for the offence which carries a RM300 fine.
In 2013, a total of 30,825 summonses were issued to motorists for driving while using their mobile phones, while in 2014 and 2015, a total of 44,004 and 42,641 summonses respectively were issued.
Up till Dec 27, 2016, 46,289 summonses were issued.
“People always say the police are not enforcing the law enough. Look at the number of summonses we issued just for this offence. It is unfair to say enforcement is lacking.”
“People can’t expect us to place a police officer at every kilometre of the highway. The problem stems from a lack of discipline (among motorists).”
Mahamad said the problem had gotten worse over the years, especially with the advent of messaging apps like WhatsApp and social media.
“Many motorists are constantly using their phones on the road, when there is a traffic jam they look at their phones, when they reach a traffic light they look at their phones. Even motorcyclists are using their phones while riding.”
Mahamad said motorists should remember that under the law, traffic offences under the Road Traffic Rules are categorised as strict liability law, which meant it is up to an offending driver to prove his or her innocence in court.
Hence, he said motorists caught using their mobile phones while driving should not try to wriggle their way out of a summons by hiding the device.
“I advise motorists to keep their hands away from their phones while driving. It is an offence to even hold a phone, regardless of whether you are in a (traffic) jam or (waiting at a) traffic light.”
“You should not even stop by the emergency lane to text or talk on the phone. Just use a hands-free device or Bluetooth if you really need to.”
Recently, a video of an express bus driver using his mobile phone and smoking while driving to the Tangkak toll in Johor from Kuala Lumpur went viral. Authorities are investigating the incident.