JPJ Cracks Down on Handphone-Using Drivers

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If you’re used to having one hand on the steering wheel with the other hand busy on your mobile phone, then be prepared to lose RM300 if you’re caught. Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the ministry and the Road Transport Department (JPJ) are preparing to reprimand road offenders who use their mobile phones behind the wheel.

“We prohibit drivers from using their handphones on the road. We have given them a lot of advice, yet there are many who still do so. Focus on the road and not your handphones when you are driving. Liow was quoted as saying in The Star Online. He added that using navigation apps such as Waze was permitted, but the mobile phone should be mounted on a phone holder.

For the enforcement exercise, a static camera and mobile camera will be used, on top of enforcement personnel being deployed to catch drivers in the act. Offences involving mobile phone usage are also set to be included into the Automated Awareness Safety System.

Liow pointed to Malaysia’s outsized road fatalities rate as a major catalyst for this shift. “The accident rates are very high,” he said. “There were 5,310 fatalities from January to September this year, while for the whole of last year, there were 7,152 deaths. We want to reduce these figures by 10% every year and it is really challenging.”

Malaysia isn’t the only country in the world to impose laws against mobile phone usage. In fact, according to a CNN report, more than 30 countries have laws prohibiting the use of handhelds behind the wheel. However, the penalties vary from country to country. Here’s the breakdown of the fines in other countries:

Singapore: A first-time offender can be fined up S$1,000 (RM3,062.78) or jailed for not more than six months, or both. They may also be disqualified from driving. If convicted, second-time offenders face a maximum fine of S$2,000 (RM6,125.56) or jailed for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both.

Philippines: First-time offenders face a $400 (RM1,662.60) fine and confiscation of driver’s licence.

UK: £200 (RM1,097.48) with six demerit points. At 12 points, licence is revoked, and for those driving less than two years, it’s an automatic licence loss.

US: Fines vary from state to state across the country, with fines as low as $25 (RM103.91) to as high as $750 (RM3,117.38). In Utah, a driver could also face three years jail time for using their phones behind the wheel.


Oman: Up to 10 days in jail and a maximum fine or 300 OMR (RM3,239.31)

Trinidad and Tobago: About $225 (RM935.21), with possible imprisonment of up to three months.

Buenos Aires, Argentina: Fines between $5 (RM20.78) and $500 (RM2,082.41) are imposed on those caught reading or writing texts while driving, with 5 points. Licenses get revoked at 20 points.

Many of us have had probably close calls with distracted drivers who are more focused on their phone than on the road. Even motorcyclists can be seen texting while they’re in motion, which seems particularly insane! So what do you think, readers? Do you agree with the new JPJ initiative? Do you think a RM300 fine is robust enough to deter this dangerous practice, or should it be higher? Sound off in the comments below and let us know.


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