Following the viral case of a woman who was fined for using Waze on her phone while driving in Penang, many have expressed concern over when it would be considered appropriate to use it.
As such, the police have come forward to clarify when it is actually not against the law to use one’s phone while on the road.
M’sians will not be fined if they use phone holders
Speaking to The Star, federal police Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department director Commissioner Datuk Seri Mat Kasim Karim said that as long as drivers use hands-free kits or holders, they are free to pick up calls or swipe/touch the screen.
He said that the law is explicit when it comes to holding the phone while driving, where drivers are not allowed to hold on to one when the car’s still moving or stuck in a traffic jam, adding that drivers are considered to still be in “active driving mode”.
Using cellphones without a holder during such situations would mean diverting their attention away from the road. This can pose a danger and inconvenience when a driver is required to resume driving when traffic starts moving again.
Mat Kasim also said that drivers can pose a danger to themselves and others when they bend over to pick up their phone if they accidentally drop it to the ground.
As such, the best way is for drivers to pull over at a parking lot if they do not having a hands-free kit or phone holder with them. However, Mar Kasim warned that pulling over at an emergency without a valid reason is considered an offense as well.
He also highlighted the potential hazards of attempting to pick up a dropped cellphone while driving, as it can lead to a loss of control over the vehicle.
Penalties for offenders
According to new rules issued by the police on June 6, 2020, first time offenders can be fined RM1,000 or jailed for up to three months under Rule 17A, LN166/59 of the Road Transport Act 1987.
If they’re caught the second time, they will face a RM2,000 fine and/or imprisonment for up to six months.
This comes as Malaysia was found to have the highest number of road fatalities and accidents in the world, where 6,080 people died last year alone.
So the next time you’re thinking of using your phone while driving, think about the safety of others and yourself before going ahead!