Smartphone addicts fined up to NT$3,000 on Taiwan roads

A Scooter rider is checking is smart phone at an intersection in Ximending district, Taipei on Dec. 3, 20218. (Shutterstock)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our smartphones can help us maintain a sense of belonging to a group or community.

With smart devices always on and always on us, however, an increasing number of people have suffered from nomophobia — an abbreviation of “no-mobile-phone-phobia.”

Also called “smartphone addiction,” nomophobia often translates into anxiety or panic throughout the day, including when you are behind the wheel and/or stuck in traffic.

According to New Taipei City Traffic Adjudication Office head Lee Chung-tai (李忠台), authorities issued 5,893 fines to drivers using their phones on the road from January to August.

Anyone caught using his or her mobile device at a stoplight can be fined up to NT$3,000 (US$107) if driving a car, or NT$1,000 (US$36) if driving a scooter, authorities said.

Why? The logic is simple: you need to pay attention whenever you are behind the wheel. Remember that you are not the only one on the road and others can make mistakes too, authorities added.

With your head off the road at an intersection, you may not be accounting for pedestrians who are temporarily out of view when you become aware that the lights had changed.

You may be distracted and not hear an emergency vehicle now in the intersection passing through against the light.

You may not have noticed the light is green. After people finally honk at you, however, you would zoom through the intersection on yellow or worse yet yellow changing to red.

That’s the reasoning behind this important road regulation. No one needs to use his or her phone for checking emails or texting at red lights.

If it is that important, pull off the road and handle your business. If you will not modify your own behavior toward safer driving, expect more new laws designed to help you along.