Muscat: You are risking your as well as your co-passengers’ lives by taking selfies while driving on the Sultan Qaboos Highway and on other roads, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) warned on Thursday.
Officials reminded the public that it is everyone’s responsibility to remain safe while driving.
A selfie is a widespread phenomenon and many people are willing to take risks for the same — some use the cameras on their mobile phones to record memories or take photos for fun, while others seek the perfect picture ... even while driving.
Read also: How dangerous is your smartphone?
Talking to the Times of Oman, a senior ROP official noted, “Generally, anything that deters a driver’s focus is considered a traffic law violation,” including “talking, texting and taking selfies; and using the phone in any way is a serious violation of the law”.
“It is very sad to learn that young drivers feel it is socially acceptable to take pictures of themselves while driving, often with two or three other passengers in the frame. This is an unacceptable and highly irresponsible behaviour,” said Mark Pudwell, Business Development and Training Manager of Competence HR, and a fire and rescue professional.
Safety of road users
“Not only do they place their own safety in serious jeopardy, but also the safety of other road users,” he added.
Further, an Omani national, who wished to remain anonymous, recalled a recent incident while driving in his car.
“While I was driving home from work, I noticed a car veering into my lane several times and back into its own lane on the highway. I was in the fast lane while the car was in the carpool (middle) lane,” he said.
“As I sped up to pass the car, I saw the driver holding his phone high in front of him, obviously taking a selfie. I believe the ROP must impose harsher penalties for these kinds of acts.”
Locals and residents have voiced their concerns regarding the dangers these people pose on Omani roads, saying that taking selfies while driving is “dim-witted” and these drivers do not value their own lives. “Their stupidity puts people’s lives around them in danger. They should realise that it’s only themselves who don’t value their lives.” said Alistair, a Muscat resident.
Another Omani national, Khalid, suggested that harsher punishments should be in place. “In my opinion, a harsher punishment should be issued by the ROP to people who use their phones while driving, especially when being careless and cocky to take selfies. Stupidity at its finest, if I may.”
Although police patrols are common on the roads, Pudwell believes that the ROP has a valuable and useful weapon in their possession to crack down on this habit among youths.
“Resources are stretched at the best of times, in terms of actual patrol cars, but one additional weapon that the authorities have readily at hand is the monitoring of social media sites, where offenders proudly post their photos for all to see,” said Pudwell.
“This particular method of “policing” is becoming more prevalent and is yielding greater results in all areas of crime fighting,” he added.
“Awareness campaigns across several platforms, such as schools, exhibitions and safety exhibitions, have caused voices to strain and messages often forgotten or ignored, but a simple task is only required from drivers,” he said.
Further, Pudwell noted, “The message is simple. When you drive a vehicle, don’t do anything else except focus on driving”.