Upset by drivers using cell phones

| 04/10/2017

There seems to have been a large increase in the number of drivers on mobile phones in recent months (even more than usual). I rarely undertake a journey without seeing at least one driver holding their phone out in front of them whilst driving. Other jurisdictions such as the UK are clamping down heavily on phone use whilst driving, and I have seen nothing similar here. In fact, I have seen police driving whilst on the phone.

 Speeds on Cayman roads are a lot slower in general than the UK but driving whilst on the phone is still dangerous at worst and at best is an annoyance to the person behind when you are driving below the speed limit and weaving all over the road. Is the CI government/police going to address this any time soon?

Auntie’s answer: You have touched on one of my pet peeves as well. It raises my blood pressure when I see a driver on a cell phone doing something risky, dumb or just plain careless (or any combination of the three). One person’s selfish – and illegal – behaviour can easily turn into a tragedy on the road.

I asked the RCIPS your question and a spokesperson, while acknowledging that using a cell phone while driving has become a more common offence in Cayman, said that the police are catching many of these miscreants. In September, for example, 109 people were prosecuted for using a cell phone while operating a vehicle, with 71 of those nabbed by the Traffic Management Unit. I am sure everyone every day sees drivers using phones, but just because we may not see the police stopping someone for that offence, doesn’t mean they aren’t issuing tickets.

I do feel Cayman was a little late joining the party when it came to acknowledging the dangers of driving while on the phone; the restrictions on cell-phone use were finally codified six years ago when they were written into The Traffic Law, 2011 Revision.

Section 78, “Ban on use of mobile telephones”, says “a driver shall not use a mobile telephone while he is operating a vehicle”. (Note: there are some exceptions such as for a constable on duty, if you need to make a 911 call, or if you are using narrowly defined types of hands-free dialling that do not require pressing multiple buttons). But, overall, the law seems pretty straightforward to me and I would hope that anyone capable of driving a car would also be capable of understanding those fourteen words I quoted. However, I am also sure there a plenty of people who simply do not care or do not believe they will ever get caught.

The RCIPS spokesperson added that the police are trying, with the help of various partners, to educate the public about safe driving. One such initiative is the “Share the Road” campaign funded by the Rotary Clubs. I suppose the cynics among you would say that no amount of education will change people determined to drive however they want, regardless of the danger they might pose.

The spokesperson acknowledged they “cannot police everybody” but also called on the community to get involved, saying, “It is up to all of us to cultivate a responsible and attentive driving culture on the islands in an era that is full of distractions.”

Meanwhile, I will continue to imagine myself snatching the cell phone out of the hands of the offending (offensive?) driver and stomping it to bits on the ground. (I can dream, can’t I?)

The law mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library


Category: Ask Auntie, Police Questions, Traffic Questions

Comments (9)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How does this law apply to tour bus drivers who routinely drive their vehicles through George Town with one hand while using the other hand to operate a handheld microphone?

  2. Anonymous says:

    The law is extremely vague.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I mainly use mine to stir shit in the CNS comments while stuck in traffic.

    • Anonymous says:

      I gets so angry when I see people using their cell phones when driving, for example, just the other day I was driving in traffic and saw this guy driving and talking on his phone I got so mad that I ended up throwing my almost full bottle of cold Bud light at him.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The question remains, what constitutes “using a mobile telephone”. Is use limited to making and receiving calls or does it cover other usage – like reading texts, emails, listening to music?

    • Anonymous says:

      And does this prohibit using GPS app on cell phone?

      • Anonymous says:

        What about connecting to the phone over bluetooth and browsing through songs using controls on the steering wheel, or using voice commands – is that using a cell phone?

      • Anonymous says:

        I disable any GPS or other location revealing application for a personal safety and privacy reason. I don’t want to be tracked, and don’t want advertisers targeting me. It’s bad enough that adverts pop up regularly just by the IP address localizing to your region or provider.