Malaysia warns jail for text-messaging behind the wheel

KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 (AFP) – Malaysian motorists who read or send SMS text messages while behind the wheel face going to jail, authorities warned in a report Wednesday, saying texting is more dangerous than talking on the phone. Malaysia’s Road Transport Department last year nabbed 600 motorists for using text messaging services and is setting its sights on catching more, according to the New Straits Times.

“Using the SMS while driving is more dangerous than talking on the handphone. You would have to concentrate on the message being sent. How can you keep your eyes on the road while doing this?” the deparment’s enforcement director Solah Mat Hassan was quoted as saying.

“We want people to stop using handphones while driving — it does not matter whether you are talking or sending an SMS,” he added.

The newspaper said that motorists using mobile phones without a hands-free kits are liable for a 1,000 ringgit (276.70 dollar) fine or up to three months in jail. Solah said many Malaysians are unaware that sending or reading SMS texts while driving is an offence, and were often surprised when they were booked.