... just after passing driving test
Cape Town – It’s an exhilarating moment when you get the news that you have passed your driving test.
But it’s probably best to first take time to digest the news before immediately start texting your friends, and then reading their responses on your cellphone while driving. Especially in the vicinity of a bridge.
Even for an experienced motorist driving and texting is a hazardous exercise.
But a man identified as Mr Zhang, from the city of Zunyi in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou, took his eyes off the road while reading text messages from friends congratulating him on passing his driving licence test 10 minutes after the joyous event.
But that changed quickly when he made a wrong turn on a bridge. Video footage from the incident sees his white vehicle swerve suddenly in order to avoid two people walking on the bridge.
The car scarily flies into the air before quickly submerging into the icy water.
Zhang was a very lucky man. He managed to escape drowning before his car sunk – by kicking the door open on the passenger side – and only ended up with a dislocated shoulder.
In a television interview, Zhang said: “While I was driving, I tried to grab my phone and read some messages while two people were in front of me on the bridge. I became nervous and turned left suddenly.
“Luckily, the car floated for a while. I couldn’t open the driver’s door so I had to kick open the door on the other side. Otherwise, I may never have got out.”
Shocked bystanders were able to help him out of the water and give him some dry clothes.
Police then retrieved the car from the water. It’s unclear if he will face a penalty over the incident.
The maximum punishment for using your phone when driving in China is two points off your licence and a 200 yuan fine (R336). The Aarto demerit point system comes into effect in South Africa in June.
If the engine is running and you are sitting behind the wheel, you are not allowed to operate your phone in South Africa.
The City of Cape Town last year introduced legislation which allows for cellphones to be impounded if a motorist is caught using their handset while driving.
A R500 traffic fine is issued on the spot and after 24 hours you can collect your phone from the traffic department for an additional release fee of R 1 165.