When the new Traffic Law comes into effect on 21 September it will introduce severe restrictions on the use of mobile electronic devices while driving.
This requirement was added to the law after extensive public lobbying to see it included. International research has pointed to distracted driving as one of the leading causes of serious accidents the intention of the law is to reduce such accidents by limiting the ways in which mobile devices may be used in vehicles.
The law bans the use of mobile electronic devices while a vehicle is being operated, including when the vehicle is stopped at traffic lights or in stationary traffic.
The only exceptions to the law for members of the public is when the mobile phone is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle when the phone is being used and it does not require the pressing of more than one button on the phone to make, receive or terminate a telephone call, or in cases where the phone is not secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle but does not require the driver to hold or manipulate the phone in order to make, receive or terminate a call.
This means that car kits or headsets could be used while driving, as long as they are in compliance with the law.
Local telecoms providers LIME and Digicel have welcomed the implementation of the law.
“We are delighted this law is coming into effect in the Cayman Islands. When a driver is dialling a number or texting they are not only putting themselves at risk, they are also putting everyone around them in a dangerous situation. All new phones come with a wired headset plus all our stores have a range of headsets, Bluetooth headsets and car kits. LIME encourages everyone to obey the law, use a headset and don’t text whilst driving,” said Tony Ritch, general manager of LIME Cayman Islands.
The sentiment was echoed by Brian Hurley, commercial director of Digicel Cayman.
“We take our corporate responsibility very seriously and are fully behind the new road safety law which will no doubt contribute to a safer environment in the Cayman Islands – this new law will save lives. We want to help in every way possible to educate and encourage all drivers to use hands free devices while driving. We have various options available at Digicel to ensure better road safety for all. If you must drive and use your phone, do it with a Digicel hands free device.”
Both companies will also be launching awareness campaigns to let their customers know about the impending changes in the law and how it will affect them.
According to Sharez Laws of Digicel, the company will be sending public advisory and awareness messages to its customers informing them that the law has passed.
“In addition to this we will be doing some activities to actively promote road safety within our organisation and hopefully this will contribute to broader awareness of this very important road safety issue in the community,” she said.
LIME will also be launching a customer awareness campaign according to Julie Hutton of LIME.
“We will be sending out a series of texts to all our mobile customers letting them know the law is coming into effect and promoting headsets,” Ms Hutton said.
There will also be incentives for customers to upgrade to headsets and car kits that are in compliance with the law.
“We have agreed to give 20 per cent discount on any hands free kits, car mounted and headset based. This will start on Friday 14 September in all our stores,” Ms Hutton said.
Prices for these devices range from $45 to $109 before the discount, but require the use of mobile phones that have Bluetooth capability, as most modern smartphones do.
Digicel will also be offering specials on hands free devices.
“We have already discounted the price on our range and will release further promotions to further raise awareness in the marketplace. Our ultimate goal is to ensure we educate and encourage our customers about the use of hands free accessories to prevent mobile use while driving,” Ms Laws said.