While no formal study has been carried out in Singapore to quantify the impact that smartphones and other personal digital devices have on road capacity, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence.
At a junction, for instance, the first car that fails to move off more than five seconds after the lights have turned green is usually occupied by a driver who is busy texting. Likewise, a vehicle moving slower than the flow, braking for no reason, or worse, veering from left to right at the same time, is caused by a driver fiddling with his mobile phone.
While these may be isolated incidents, each one has a chain reaction – not unlike someone slowing down to turn or filter. They cause “shockwaves” that can tail back for kilometres. And if a phone-using driver actually gets into an accident, the impact will be much bigger.
It would be great if manufacturers of mobile devices can work with carmakers to create a dead zone around the driver’s seat – there’ll be no reception at all in, say, a half-metre radius. Drivers can only make or receive hands-free, voice-activated calls by placing the phone in a special cradle at the far end of the passenger seat.
Meanwhile, it is a good thing that the authorities are clamping down on mobile phone usage on the road. Now that new laws have been passed, strict enforcement must follow, in my opinion.