The phrase "law enforcement" – and the very idea of laws themselves – is entirely dependent on that second word, "enforcement." Without it, you don't have laws, you have a modern art installation consisting of reams of paper decorated with lines that are as useless as they are squiggly. But how enforcement is handled is just as important as the concept itself, and when it comes to laws against cell phone usage while driving, Cape Town, South Africa has gone further than any other country we've heard of.

Instead of just issuing a fine, when drivers are caught talking on their phones the authorities have begun confiscating phones for 24 hours – unless a driver is busted on Friday, in which case, the confiscation lasts until the following Monday. Using your actual cell phone handset and not a hands-free kit while driving is against the law in South Africa. It's been that way for a while, but it was found that a 500-rand ($60 U.S.) fine wasn't curbing the distracted driving habit. The next step? Take the phone away and see if that changes motorists' behavior.

In this case, Cape Town police lock the offender's phone inside a case, on the spot, and the case is later placed inside a walk-in vault at one of the traffic departments. Drivers are allowed to remove SIM and memory cards before the phone is handed over, and frankly, phones are so inexpensive in South Africa that we could – sadly – see this leading to some folks buying a new phone instead of retrieving their handset from the police. Nevertheless, SA is determined to see it through in the hopes that drivers will obey the law instead of their own communication compulsions.

What do you think, is this an appropriate step by Cape Town's police, or is it taking things too far? Have your say by voting in our poll below and feel free to leave your thoughts in Comments.





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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 75 Comments
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 2 Years Ago
      It always surprises me how many adults think that they shouldn't have to follow the rules. If the law says you can't talk on the phone while driving then don't talk on the phone while driving. Easy. And if you don't like the laws then put in some effort to change them.
      vga1966
      • 2 Years Ago
      Behavioral modification at its best! Should be adopted across the USA, fines and words do not seem to work. Take the problem out the the users hands. First offense one day, second six months, and if caught with another cell, well maybe some jail time. I see no reason why people have to be killed or injured becase some mentally challenged individual wants to be on the cell while driving. If the result was just the offenders death that would be okay, but some poor innocent passerby, unacceptable!
      Stumpy
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wish they could do something like that here in the States. Or at least something inventive to cut down on the amount of people on their phones while driving. Fines don't seem to work. ..
        imoore
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Stumpy
        Simple. If using a hands-free set, then confiscate the car.
        Jonathan Arena
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Stumpy
        Fines don't work because no one actually gets fined here. Cops would rather sit on the side of the road ticketing people who do 5 mph over rather than enforcing something that would actually improve saftey.
          Sean Conrad
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jonathan Arena
          That's interesting, because I always go 5 - 10 over and I don't slow down when I see cops (unless the ******* in front of me does), and I've never even been pulled over for speeding.
      marshknute
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why don't they do this in the States? If drivers are incapable of focusing on the task at hand, they shouldn't be driving a two ton car. If you take the phone away, they can't be distracted by it anymore. Better yet, force them to pay a fine (lets call it a tax) to get their phone back.
        JKM
        • 2 Years Ago
        @marshknute
        I hear you on the implications of talking on the phone and driving... it's absolutely unnecessary and ridiculously dangerous. However, would you agree to have the police (government) confiscate your phone with all the pictures, calendar info, personal info,... on it for them to basically upload to their database if confiscated. They absolutely will do it. I think a more less intrusive, yet equally effective penalty would to impose a 500$ first time fine, 1000$ second time fine...
          marshknute
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JKM
          I have nothing on my phone worth hiding. If I did have any personal information, I would set a passcode or use any the apps that keep personal information safe. Nevertheless, people who use a phone behind the wheel should be treated like criminals and deserve to have their personal information added to the police database.
      Soyntgo4it
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yet here in the USA people still text and talk on the phone even though most cars now will do it voice command. Think the USA should do the same.. People do not have full control of their vehicle when they are talking on the phone with one hand has the phone the other on the wheel..... Smarten up people...
        mikemaj82
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Soyntgo4it
        you need to smarten up. even with a hands free set drivers are STILL DISTRACTED. People who drive stick have one hand on the wheel as well, so there's no difference. Don't talk on the phone, regardless if it's hands free or not, period!
          Soyntgo4it
          • 2 Years Ago
          @mikemaj82
          Its not as bad as having one hand holding a phone to your ear and one on the wheel so think again about your comment.. Uhduhhhh
          S.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @mikemaj82
          It doesn't matter where your hands are, it's about where your mind is focused. And even with handsfree, your mind is occupied on the phone conversation and not on the road.
      IBx27
      • 2 Years Ago
      Take it away; it worked just fine in 7th grade.
      al12exb
      • 2 Years Ago
      People are always going to do whatever they can get away with AND even when they are caught, they will continue to do it because there is no real insentive to stop. People drive on suspended or revoked licenses and out of date car registrations. They gamble at getting caught. When caught, its a game to them just like not paying parking tickets and getting booted, towed and having to pay hefty fines to get your vehicle back. But, who really cares....obviously there are way to many violators. THIER DAY WILL COME!
      nsheats
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wonderful, fantastic marvelous . Now can we please get these self centered egotistical nutballs out of theaters, libraries, restaurants, and work. Believe me folks just because you own a cell phone does not mean that you can endanger, bug, irritate, bother and annoy every other citizen within 50 feet. Remember folks your cell ringing does not mean you HAVE to answer it. Even the most rudimentary ones will give you a call back number.
      Jodi Nealb
      • 2 Years Ago
      Forget taking the phone, if you are caught talking while driving. Don't take the phone, for the driver will need that to call for a ride. Impound the car. The police should take the most dangerous of the two, that being the car. And for those readers who say that don't have the right to take your car. Most cops will tell you that a car can be impounded if it has been used in a criminal activity. Since using a phone while driving is against the law that means the car has been used in a criminal activity. I would like to see someone come up with away the makes the phone not work in the car while it is in gear. But why do we need to make something new, when all we really need to do is get some common sense involved.
      dredselw
      • 2 Years Ago
      I met a car yesterday heading toward me in the wrong direction on a four lane road! It was a young girl talking on her cell phone oblivious to the traffic. Luckily a policeman spotted her before she killed herself and after quite an effort pulled her over. She was oblivious to him too! This should be treated just like DUI and fines and penalties applied accordingly!
      Randy
      • 2 Years Ago
      When considering that when moving a 5000LB or so object at any speed can be deadly even when you do have both hands on the wheel folks that voted that it is to harsh a penalty, maybe we should use a perspective like..... Would you want your heart surgeon on his or her cell phone while you're opened up? Would you like a sharpshooter, shooting an apple out of your mouth, with one hand while he or she is on the phone? Would you like the pilot of the aircraft that you may be on, which is landing at an airport with a plane in front, behind and each side of him or her to be landing with one hand while on the phone with the other? If you said "no" to all of the above then there's no reason why a person driving a 5000LB chunk of steal that can kill a person at 1MPH should be out of anyone's absolute control. It's common sense,
      desinerd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have an even better idea. Put it in a Fedex box and put it in the mail. And make the offender pay for it. I'm tired of these inconsiderate jerks.
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