Monday, April 15, 2013

Talking on mobiles when driving (even with a handsfree) is illegal in India

Last Friday, I was driving to work in the morning. I was busy talking to a friend over the phone with my
hands free connected. I was stopped by a traffic police man near Thoraipakkam signal. He asked me to pull over and lower my window. He asked, "Are you talking to somebody?" I didn't want to lie and told him "Yes!... But, I'm talking with my hands free connected".

The police man smiled and said "Sir! Talking over the phone when driving ... with or without hands free is banned in India. Don't you know that?". I was shocked. I said "Sir ! I didn't know this". He asked me to get down and give my driving license. He said Rs.1,100 will be the fine for talking when driving. "Oh! My God.. that is a hefty amount". I asked him, "Sir! Are you sure it is Rs.1,100?". He nodded "Yes!". I didn't want to beg him to lower the fine. The Gandhian in me was not interested to bribe him. I said, "OK! I'll pay the fine". I thought, "Anyways the money goes to the government. So, I'm OK". The policeman punched in the vehicle and license details in the hand-held device and gave me a receipt. I paid him the money, got into the car and started my vehicle. 

Somehow, my mind became restless. In fact, I was more focused on the traffic when I was talking over the phone and driving. However, my thoughts were running all over because of the hefty fine amount that I paid. "Why me?!" was the question that was going on in my mind. I have seen a number of two wheeler riders talking when driving... that too without a hands free device. Why haven't they been caught? What if there is a co-passenger sitting beside me and he is talking with me constantly? Is that illegal too? What is the difference between talking with a hands-free and talking to a co-passenger in the car? In fact, the latter is more dangerous because you'll have to look at the co-passenger once in a while when talking.

I can completely understand the rationale behind asking people "not to talk on phones, when driving". However, having paid Rs.1,100 as the fine amount, I couldn't convince myself without finding answer for the questions that were popping in my mind. I reached office and got settled in my desk. The first thing that I did was to google to find out "how much is the fine for talking when driving in India". I confirmed that the policeman can charge up to Rs.1000 as fine for talking when driving. I also learned that "playing music in the car" is also illegal. The fine amount for that is Rs. 100 :)

If the traffic policeman start to enforce the rules strictly, Tamilnadu Government can make a lot of money from drivers than by selling alcohol in TASMAC bars.