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Kerala High Court rules that talking on a mobile phone while driving is not illegal

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Dr KK Aggarwal    19 May 2018

On Wednesday i.e. on 16.05.2018, the Honble Kerala High Court ruled that talking on a mobile phone while driving is not illegal. It ordered that the police cannot register a case against those who talk on the mobile phone while driving, unless the act causes a danger to the public.

The police had registered a case under and Section 118(e) of Kerala Police Act.

Section 118(e) of Kerala Police Act states that any person who knowingly does any act which causes danger to public or failure in public safety shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to three years or with a fine not exceeding Rs 10,000/- or with both.

The Honble Division Bench of the High Court said that the police can’t register case as there are no provisions in the law to book a person for this.

The court said that police action is possible only if the Act of talking over phone causes danger to public. “Also, there is no provision in the police act that bans people from talking over the mobile phone while driving. Hence a person doing the act cannot be assumed as one who causes danger to the public,” the court said. The Honble High Court expounded that if a case should be registered, the law should be amended and should be passed in the Legislative Assembly.

The Honble Division Bench’s ruling was in response to a petition filed by MJ Santhosh, a native of Kakkanad in Ernakulam questioning the police for registering a case against him using the provisions of the Act. (Source: Latestlaws.com)

This judgement is applicable only to the state of Kerala. However, it may set an unhealthy precedent.

It is dangerous to talk on mobile phones, whether hand-held or hands-free while driving as it distracts the driver. Distracted driving has now become a leading cause of road traffic accidents. Using a radio or navigation system, looking at people on the road side or billboards, eating or drinking, texting, reaching for any object etc. while driving are other examples of distracted driving.

As stated in the ‘Road Accidents in India-2016’ report of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, talking on mobile phones while driving resulted in 4, 976 road accidents, 2,138 road accident deaths and injuries to 4,746 number of persons during the year 2016 (PIB, September 6, 2017).

Drivers who use a mobile phone are about four times more likely to be involved in a crash compared to those not using a phone, according to a 2011 World Health Organization (WHO) report on the impact of mobile phone use on driving. And this increased risk is similar for both hand-held and hands-free phones.

Evidence shows that use of mobile phones impairs driving by longer reaction times (braking reaction time, reaction to traffic signals), impaired ability to keep in the correct lane, shorter following distances, and an overall decline in awareness of the driving situation.

So, drive safe…

 

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

Vice President CMAAO

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Immediate Past National President IMA

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