The Kerala High court states that there is no law against fining drivers for using their phones while driving. According to Hindustan Times report, talking on the phone while driving will not attract any fine for people in Kerala.
Currently, motorists committing such acts have been filed under the section 118(e) Kerala Police Act. This deals with the accused causing danger to public or failure of public safety.
However, the high court ordered that individuals cannot be penalised under this act if they are using the phone without causing any danger to the public.
The court further stated that the section 118(e) cannot be invoked for using the phone while driving. This is because there is no provision to prove that this act would amount to danger to the public.
"In the absence of any statutory provision which prevents the use of a mobile phone while driving a motor vehicle, it may not be possible to infer that danger will be caused in the process."
However, offenders can be booked under section 184 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 or the section 279 of the Penal code. These sections have provisions to fine offenders for ‘driving dangerously'.
According to officials, if a case has to be registered, the legislative assembly should first amend and pass the existing law.
N Madhusudan Nair, a researcher of Road Safety & Driver Behaviour, IIT-Delhi, spoke about the high court statement. He stated, "the human brain is not conditioned to perform two important tasks such as driving and talking on the phone at the same time."
"The entire point of having a road safety law in a country is to prevent accidents. If I am walking swinging a sword on the road, would the authorities wait till I cut someone's head to apprehend me?"
Thoughts On The Lack Of Provision For Talking On Phone While Driving
It is clear that the Motor Vehicles Act is extremely outdated and needs to be amended as soon as possible. With the increasing number of road accidents faced every day in the country, it is important to have strict rules to catch offenders.
Although there is no provision to fine drivers using the phone, it is important that people individually avoid engaging in any such activities at all cost. Those who do need to attend to their phones should park their vehicles on the side before receiving any calls or messages.