I am always picking phone calls whiles driving and I am sure a lot of professionals who drive to work have formed the habit of using one hand to hold the phone to their ears whiles driving or sometimes use their shoulder to hold the phone in place when they have to change the gear/shift.
It has been illegal to drive and talk on the cellular phone in Israel and other countries for some time and just recently the Ghana Police Service has cracked its whip and out to arrest any drivers caught in the act.[Don’t know if there are any by-laws or legislature covering this in Ghana]
Many scholarly articles have addressed this issue. Ref: Wikipedia – Mobile Phones and Driving Safety and drawn parallels between drunk-driving and driving whiles making phone calls.
However, I find these two actions by trotro drivers much more dangerous than talking on the cell phone:
1. Trotro drivers changing money for their mates whiles driving
2. Trotro drivers chatting or fighting with passengers behind him
It is a nice balancing act when trotro drivers manage to get up and get money out of their back pockets to break the GHc 20 or GHc 50 into smaller denominations for their mates. Mostly passengers don’t care much about the driver’s act as long as they get their change when they ask for it. But whenever I find myself in the seat behind a driver trying to execute such an act, it becomes clear to me the kind of risk he’s taking and how precariously the lives of his passengers hang in a balance for that short moment of distraction. How the driver manages to count GHc 1.00 in coins of 20GHp and 10GHp always fascinates me but now IT ACTUALLY SCARES ME.
For regular trotro-boarding folks like myself, I have encountered many drivers. [Types of drivers will be for another post]. But the bellicose or stressed driver is one you don’t want to mess with. They fight over just about everything, fight with everyone and takes offense easily. So how do you call to order a driver who is in a fight with a passenger? How can you stop the driver from looking over his shoulder to cast his dagger-eyes and aspersions at the ‘right’ passenger?
In all these cases, reaction-time of the drivers is greatly reduced because of the distraction and that scares me more than when a driver is talking on the phone and has one hand on the steer and looking straight ahead.