Mumbaikars seem to be callous about road safety when it comes to answering calls related to work, especially if it is a superior's call.
The next time you cross a road in Mumbai, look both ways. It is no secret that punishing work schedules make Mumbai's citizens perform domestic chores while travelling in buses, trains and cabs. What is alarming is that 40 percent of Mumbaikars admit to receiving work-related calls while driving, thus putting lives at risk.
According to The Road Accidents in India report published in 2015, Mumbai recorded the highest number of road accidents with 586 fatalities of the 23,468 mishaps. According to a Statista report, 12 percent of the Mumbai's drivers have experienced an accident or a near miss situation while driving on roads while the numbers go up to 44 percent while crossing roads.
About 60 percent of Mumbaikars say they have witnessed or know of accidents while driving.
The survey also notes that Mumbai ranked third among the urban metros when it comes to making or answering while driving with an alarming 65 percent affirming that they use their phones at the wheels. Bengaluru ranks first with 83 percent followed by Kolkata standing at 70 percent. The survey which sought to determine the frequency of calls during driving shows that 35 percent of Mumbaikars do it often, if not always.
The reasons for answering calls may be varied but what features in the top of the list is an easy guess - work related call. The financial capital of India which has a stressful work life cannot avoid work related calls with 40 percent vehicle owners responding that they have to take a call if it's a work superior or colleague trying to contact them.
Section 177 of the Motor Vehicle Act (1988) imposes a fine in the range of Rs 100 to Rs 300 for the use of mobile phones while driving and the fine intensifies if it causes inconvenience or causes a hazard to road users. The fine can go up to Rs 1,000 with a compounding fee of Rs 500. There are no clear laws which state the penalty if one uses a Bluetooth device or hands-free devices.
Although the laws are in place, 14 percent vehicle owners in Mumbai have also responded that they pick up or dial a number when there are no police officers in sight, thus negating the possibility of a penalty.While an appalling 9 percent of Mumbaikars feel that it is not unsafe to make/receive calls during driving, the Mumbai traffic police need to tighten their vigil to ensure road safety.