No using phone on the lap while driving (Poll Inside)

Risky: A woman posing with a smartphone on her lap while driving. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

Use a phone holder or face RM1,000 fine and jail, cops tell motorists

GEORGE TOWN: Many people drive around with their phones on their lap while using navigation apps or talking in speaker mode. You can be fined up to RM1,000 if you do so.

A woman in Penang learnt that the hard way. Candi Wan, a beautician from Ipoh, was on holiday on the island with her family on Tuesday and her sister was driving, navigating the streets using an app on the phone.

“She had the phone on her lap and at a roundabout, she held up the phone for just a couple of seconds to double-check the direction,” Wan said.

A policeman spotted her holding the phone and pulled her over.

“We told the policeman that my sister had held the phone for only a very short while and it was really on her lap.

“The policeman said even putting the phone on her lap was wrong,” said Wan.

And he promptly issued a summons for Wan’s sister to appear before a magistrate in August.

Her photograph of the summons has started a debate on social media, with hundreds of comments.

George Town OCPD Asst Comm Soffian Santong said one should use a phone holder to position the phone for navigation in such a way that the driver can see the road while glancing at the screen.

He said the phone cannot be placed on the lap.

“This is because you will have to look down at the map on the screen. This can lead to an accident,” he said yesterday.

Using the phone while driving is not a compoundable offence; drivers must appear before a magistrate.

ACP Soffian said even though a properly positioned phone on a holder is allowed for navigation, drivers must not be flicking on the screen for no reason.

“Stop and fix it if something is wrong with the navigation. When you are adjusting the phone on the phone holder, you can knock into someone,” he said.

He also said drivers cannot pick up handphones while waiting at a red light.

“This leads to traffic getting held up when they do not notice the light turning green,” he added.

ACP Soffian said it is “not about issuing summonses but about making it safe for ourselves and others on the road”.

Anyone charged with using a mobile phone while operating a vehicle can be fined up to RM1,000 (RM300 minimum) or sentenced to a maximum three months’ jail term if found guilty; second-time offenders can be fined up to RM2,000 and a jail term not exceeding six months, or both.

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