Dubai: If you think quickly taking a quick call when driving or just checking the message that popped up on your phone is not a big issue, think again. An Abu Dhabi Police survey in 2022 showed that around 80 per cent of road deaths and serious injuries are caused by motorists on phones.
“Mobile phones distract drivers and can cause them to either make mistakes that they would not otherwise make or to react too slowly,” Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) states in its handbook for light motor vehicle driving.
The handbook also lists a few common errors that motorists make when they are distracted by their mobile phones:
1. Straddling lanes on a multiple lane road or veering across the road.
2. Driving inconsistently, speeding up or slowing down without reason.
3. Having difficulty in maintaining appropriate distance from vehicles in front.
4. Displaying mistakes in judgement and awareness of safe gaps in traffic.
Fine for distracted driving
Using your mobile phone when driving comes under the category of distracted driving. The list of penalties in the UAE traffic law – that are provided in Ministerial Resolution No. (178) for the year 2017 on Rules and Procedures of Traffic Control – state that a driver found using his or her mobile phone while driving or caught being distracted by driving for any other reason faces a fine of Dh800, with four black points levied on his or her driving licence.
A black point is issued on the driver’s licence. A motorist can get anywhere between four to a maximum of 24 black points. If there is a violation committed after a driver has 24 black points, the case is transferred to the UAE courts, with the licence being confiscated or suspended.
What should you do?
According to police authorities, even if you use a handsfree device to take a call, it still reduces your focus from the road and does not make it any safer to take calls when driving. “Make it a habit to only use mobile phones when you are parked. When you are driving, have a passenger answer your phone, or allow your phone to go to voice mail instead,” the RTA handbook states.