Use a phone while driving and have car confiscated

It’s more dangerous than drunk driving, says Dubai’s traffic police chief, Col Saif Al Mazrouei.

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DUBAI // Police on Wednesday backed calls for motorists caught using a phone while driving to have their cars confiscated.

The existing penalty of a Dh200 fine and four black points is not tough enough, Dubai’s traffic police chief Col Saif Al Mazrouei said.

“There should be harsher penalties, especially considering that using a mobile phone while driving can be more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol.

“It has been recommended that the penalty increase to Dh1,000, 12 black points and vehicle confiscation for a period of 30 days.”

The Federal Traffic Council has made the recommendation for increased penalties, but it is not yet law.

Last year an average of 136 people a day were caught driving while on the phone in Dubai alone, and 140 people caught speeding by radar were using their phones while doing so.

Two people were killed in crashes in Dubai while using their phones. “One man, who was crushed and killed upon impact, was extracted from his vehicle with his mobile phone still in his hand,” Col Al Mazrouei said.

Dubai Police recorded 49,643 cases last year of people using their mobile phones while driving, an increase from 45,499 in 2014 and 35,734 in 2013.

“It’s an offence even if a person is holding the phone while driving or even stopped at a traffic light,” Col Al Mazrouei said. “People should not take selfies in cars or send messages.”

More drivers are also reporting offenders. Last year 1,216 people filed complaints against other motorists for using their mobile phones while driving, compared with 946 in 2014 and 770 in 2013.

Dubai Police launched a three-week campaign on Wednesday to highlight the dangers of phoning and driving at the same time. There will be lectures in schools and social media competitions, and brochures will be distributed across the emirate.

Col Al Mazrouei urged motorists to abide by traffic laws and to take part in the campaign by spreading awareness and cooperating with the police.