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Yuletide: FRSC cautions motorists against driving with hands-free, wireless earphones

By Bertram Nwannekanma
28 December 2021   |   3:20 am
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has cautioned motorists against use of phones, Airpods, Earpods or any form wired or wireless earphones and hands-free modes while driving.

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has cautioned motorists against use of phones, Airpods, Earpods or any form wired or wireless earphones and hands-free modes while driving.
 
The corps reiterated the ban on the use of phones while driving, stressing that defaulters risk six months in jail in line with the extant laws.
 
The road safety commission had insisted on its policy against direct use of mobile telephones by motorists for several years, but most drivers switched to hands-free as the most convenient way to circumvent the offence, and traffic officers hardly arrest drivers with earphones.
  


But, Lagos State Sector Commander of the Corps, Olusegun Ogungbemide, told The Guardian that despite the challenges in arresting defaulting motorists who use hands-free and bluetooths, they remain infractions.
 
According to him, driving requires total concentration and road users should not take any risks with their lives.
 
He said it is illegal to make calls or receive same while driving, according to the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2012.
  
Ogungbemide stressed that in other parts of the world, hands-free may not be an offence, but in Nigeria the law said when you use a phone while driving, it is an offence, either you use bluetooth  or hands free. The most important thing is that the phone is in use, it is an infraction.
 
He said: “It is an offence to use mobile telephones in any form” while driving “It is illegal. Driving entails 100 per cent concentration so you cannot be distracted. It is there in the regulation.
  
“It is clear from the provisions of Reg 166 (1) that it is illegal to make phone calls using EarPods, earphones or whatever means.
 
“It is also clear that phone calls are not restricted to telephone conversation between two or more people.
 
“Anything that will distract you while driving must be avoided. When we do public enlightenment, we even discourage drivers talking to passengers, which could cause distraction.

“The law may not make it an offence but at the same time, it can distract you, even changing your cassette (while driving) can distract you and result in an accident.”
 
“What the law prohibits is the use of phone while driving, but it does not say whether you are holding it or using hands-free, as long as you are using a phone, it is an offence.

“Any information that comes to you through that gadget is a distraction. So it is all about measures of distraction, which may not have direct physical measurement when a crash will occur.” 
The FRSC Lagos boss stressed that it is not really handy to know if crashes are caused by direct use of phones, but by virtue of conscience, motorists know that they are distracted when they make calls while driving.
 
According to him, when you are making calls and driving the vision is different from when you are focused on your driving, which is what the corps has confirmed and practicalised. 
 
But the delay in enforcing prohibition on hands-free while driving has led many to assume that the option was safe in Nigeria, and it was even the first choice in a list of road safety tips for drivers.
 
Also, motorists have queried the rationale behind the ban of hands free mode, insisting it could be used to communicate without running afoul of the law.
 


But expert studies have concluded that the option was not safe, and some found it could be dangerous as being twice above alcohol limit.
 
A collaborative research conducted by scientists at universities in Australia and the University of Barcelona, Spain, and published in 2013 found using hands-free while driving dangerous, and virtually the same as being twice above alcohol limit for drivers.
 
Another set of scientific findings published by the United States National Safety Council concluded that driving with hands-free could result in a deadly distraction.

Texting while driving is also a serious menace on Nigerian roads, especially among younger drivers. Studies conducted by foreign institutions showed that drivers on mobile telephones reduce their visual scanning of the road ahead or are slower to respond to hazards, and recently developed apps that supposedly aid texting behind the wheel offer little or no protection to drivers.

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