Mobile phones, a boon or bane!
Over the years, food, housing
and clothing were indispensable to human life. However, today the mobile
telephone is invariably added to the list.
Four decades after it was invented by an American, Dr. Martin Cooper
in 1973, the mobile telephone has become a sine qua non. The mobile
telephone was made available on a commercial scale only three decades
ago in the open market. Since then, it has turned out to be one of the
most sought-after devices.
It not only enhanced efficiency and productivity but also made a big
impact to improve people's time management. It is estimated that there
are over six billion mobile subscribers worldwide, as the industry
experienced rapid growth during the past decade.
It has come to a stage where smart phones are ubiquitous.
The global mobile outreach is spreading so fast that the number of
cell phones would reach over eight billion by the year's end. In other
words, there will be more cell phones than the number of people on the
Even those in the lower strata of society are now armed with mobile
phones, smart phones and tablets as the market is now flooded with a
plethora of brands at competitive and affordable prices on pre-paid and
post-paid connections too.
Although nearly half of India's 1.27 billion people lack toilet
facilities at home, a large percentage of them own mobile phones. This
alone shows the unprecedented penetration of the mobile phone industry
in all parts of the world, connecting people across continents within
Sri Lanka is no exception. It has five mobile service providers for
over 21 million mobile telephone subscribers. The mobile phone, once
considered a luxury when it was first introduced to the local market is
today the common man's most trusted friend and a significant way of
However, the mobile telephone has its pros and cons. Although it is
claimed that the use of mobile phones cause brain cancer, nobody has
proved it so far.
Mobile phones have proved to be a boon for detectives in crime
investigations. Vital data stored on mobile phones have often helped the
police to solve crimes and apprehend the suspects.
Regrettably, mobile phones have also contributed to many fatal road
accidents. Operating mobile phones while driving is prohibited by law
both here and abroad. However, it is observed more in the breach and
heavy fines are imposed on errant motorists.
Using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous as the motorists'
concentration could be impaired. Nevertheless, motorists could use
speaker phones or the hands-free facility. The police have advised
motorists, time and again to refrain from using mobile phones while
driving due to the spate of accidents.
Motorcyclists are the worst offenders and they invariably get away
scot free as they conceal their mobile phones in their helmets. Even
traffic policemen find it difficult to nab such offenders.
Comparatively, the use of mobile phones in other vehicles could be
detected easily. It has been observed that some motorists stop their
mobile conversations for a brief spell when they see traffic policemen
and resume their conversations later.
This has led to a sharp increase in the number of road accidents. It
is needless to state that any person should have full concentration
while at the wheel. Hence, the best option is to park the vehicle on a
side of the road and answer the call without hindering other traffic
users. This would take only a few minutes of one's travel time, but it
would ensure one's safety, and also the safety of those in the vehicle
and other road users.
The police should be extra vigilant about motorists who use mobile
phones while driving. The current spot fines should be increased for
first-timers and habitual offenders should be charged in courts to
discourage drivers from using mobile phones while driving.
It is a common sight today to behold pedestrians using mobile phones,
not only while walking on the pavements, but even when crossing the
road. Some obstreperous pedestrians, who are glued to their mobile
phones, even ignore to use pedestrian crossings at intersections.
The latest features in mobile phones such as smart phones or tablets
aggravate the situation. Pedestrians, mostly youth, are in another world
when using mobile smart phones, listening to music, browsing the web and
accessing social networks such as Facebook. Using mobile phones to make
video calls on Skype is also hazardous. Young pedestrians engrossed in
conversations on mobile phones barely concentrate on the inherent risks
on the road, thereby jeopardising their lives and that of others.
The time is now opportune for the authorities to ban the use of
mobile phones while perambulating on the pavements, at least in urban
areas. Motorists and pedestrians in equal measure have also contributed
to the number fatal accidents while using mobile phones. Hence, the
prevailing laws banning motorists from using mobile phones should be
extended to pedestrians as well.
In the event, a pedestrian needs to take a call, he should remain
stationary like motorists. Such road ethics would undoubtedly contribute
to reduce the number of road accidents and save valuable human life.
An awareness program to educate people, especially youth, on the
dangers of using mobile phones while driving or perambulating is the
need of the hour. The school is the best place for such an initiative as
the students who leave school could take the message to society.
Road accidents have led to an alarming number of deaths daily.
Although reckless driving has been attributed to most deaths in road
accidents, it is by no means an easy task for the police to ascertain
the number of drivers who had been using mobile phones at the time of
Hence, it is time we instill some self-discipline in us and refrain
from using mobile phones on the move. This would help save thousands of
lives - both motorists and pedestrians. Instead of being fined by
traffic policemen, it would be far better to shed one's old die-hard
habit of using mobile phones while driving.
Pedestrians should bear in mind that not only motorists but they too
should refrain from using mobile phones and expose motorists to
unnecessary risks. Pedestrians do not have any right, whatsoever, to use
mobile phones while walking and endanger the precious lives of other
Increasing spot fines and producing the offenders in courts may not
be a lasting solution for the problem.