We give our hot take on what we think should be illegal in the car, and give you some info on things you might not know were illegal…
What exactly should be considered illegal when driving? We’re hoping to give you some clear ideas on that, purely based on the fact that these activities draw attention away from the actual act of driving and the serious concentration it requires. Mind you, this excludes the seriously illegal stuff! It's just everyday activities we think could cause accidents.
1. Applying make-up
Yeah, sorry ladies, but this should be considered illegal when driving. You may think there is nothing wrong with this, but if it comes at the risk of an accident, it's a huge problem. In a Telegraph article, they write about how 27% of a poll conducted on 4000 women had revealed that they have had a crash while applying make-up. Stay safe - if you’re running late, put it on when you’ve parked safely.
Is it a cloud? Is it a fire? Nope, it’s you and your electrifying vaporiser behind the wheel. You're probably thinking to yourself, “why is vaping an issue?” It’s because of the huge plumes of smoke that result from each drag. It might not seem like it, but those plumes can often decrease visibility on the road while driving. In the UK, The Independent writes about a law that would prosecute vaping drivers if they're caught. They explain, “Vaping while driving increases your risk of crashing, causing visual disruption and physical and mental distraction."
3. Eating and drinking
Yes, you read right, that burger and coffee are more dangerous than you may think! An IOL article states that a US based study shows that eating while driving increased the chances of an accident by 8%!
Now, the three categories we’ve highlighted aren’t something we could call illegal, but as mentioned, they cause distractions to the drivers.
More examples of these are inserting your contact lenses, moving objects in your car i.e. cargo or pets, or setting your GPS, to name a few. Yep, all not illegal, but all very distracting.
Did you know these were illegal too?
With that said, there are some things that most people don’t even know are illegal! Below are a couple of examples.
1. Cell phones
We bet you’re thinking to yourself, “we already know that you aren’t supposed to text while driving.” This is true, but the same applies when you’ve stopped at a red robot. That’s right, texting or using your phone at a red light is against the law. In an Arrive Alive article, they write, summarising the South African National Road Traffic Act: “you may also not use the cellular phone at traffic lights even when the vehicle is not moving – if the engine is running you are considered to be driving.”
To be specific, smoking with children in the car. Yep, we’ve seen them, smokers who light up and puff away with their children in the back seat of the car. But this, according to SA law is illegal, and persons found doing this could be fined up to R500. According to a NEWS24 article that quotes the SA Tobacco Legislation, “No person may smoke in any vehicle or car when a child under the age of 12 years is present in that vehicle.” So the next time you see someone light up a cigarette in the presence of a little one, be sure to warn them that they are in fact breaking the law.
Now we know you were wondering about this one
Warning others of speed traps
This is one that many people believe is illegal and so we looked into the question about warning drivers of roadblocks or speed traps.
Who would have thought that being a good Samaritan could land you in hot water? But according to an EWN article, the Road Traffic Management Corporation isn’t too happy with the fact that road users warn each other about roadblocks on social media, or on the road by flashing their lights at them. They even state that in some instances, drivers aid and abet offenders like drunk drivers, who shouldn’t be on the road. While the law doesn't strictly prohibit this behaviour we do caution that doing something that the police are unhappy about may still get you into trouble or attract unnecessary attention from the police.
We investigated this issue and found that it's not strictly illegal HOWEVER the cops threatened to arrest the Pigspotter Twitter account: "Metro police spokesperson Wayne Minnaar told News24 that what PigSpotter is doing is 'definitely illegal'. 'He will be arrested even if he stops tweeting now,' said Minnaar. 'He can be charged with obstructing or defeating justice.'" You can read the full article here.
This isn’t everything we could list, but we wanted to highlight the things that in some instances aren’t illegal, but play a huge role in the causes of accidents on the road. With that being said, we also found it necessary to highlight a number of things that people don’t consider illegal - when in actual fact they are - so that we can also share a broader understanding of South Africa’s rules of the road.
It’s really all about keeping you as safe as possible on the road, whether you’re a driver who is conscious of these things, or a passenger who can hold someone accountable for them.
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