Muscat: Using a phone while driving poses a greater danger than being under the influence of alcohol, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) said in a statement.
“Studies indicate that the probability of an accident happening is greater with a driver, who uses a phone while driving, than with someone under the influence of alcohol,” the ROP said.
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It also noted that talking on the phone is four times as dangerous as being under the influence of alcohol.
ROP said, based on research, drivers who are disturbed are the most prone to accidents. Using a mobile phone disturbs drivers, distracts the mind and prevents drivers from focusing on the road.
According to ROP, the number of drivers who use a mobile phone while driving is “high” in the Sultanate, although ROP said it did not have specific statistics on the number of accidents occurring as a result of the use of mobile phones.
“From our daily experience, we know that the mobile phone causes several traffic accidents,” the statement said. “We see for example a bus driver, carrying around 50 passengers, students, or tourists, driving fast while using his right hand to drive and his left hand to call, not being aware what to do in case of an emergency.”
The fine for using a phone while driving is currently OMR35, a spokesperson of the ROP said.
The Times of Oman had reported in January, the discussions held by officials to introduce in tougher punishments under Traffic Law, for using a mobile phone while driving, including a jail sentence of between one month and two years and a fine of OMR300. However, these regulations have not yet been ratified yet.
“The amendments in the Traffic Law have not been ratified yet, but it is expected that punishments for some violations will increase,” a spokesperson of ROP said.
Although fines help in putting a limit to this habit, awareness among drivers will “definitely” contribute to putting an end to the habit, the ROP noted.
“It is not possible to have a police patrol behind every vehicle, while hundreds of drivers are using their phones while driving. They cannot be stopped by police officers occupied with monitoring and directing the flow of traffic,” ROP said. The statement concluded that the focus has to be on awareness to put an end to the loss of lives on the roads.