Although many states have enacted laws forbidding drivers from using their cell phones while behind the wheel, the fines for doing so are often so minimal that they often aren’t much of a deterrent.

But Cape Town, South Africa might have found the secret to compliance: cops there won’t just ticket you, they’ll take your phone away for 24 hours.

The policy, which went into effect on Monday, is a move by lawmakers to cut road deaths in half by 2014. Currently, about 1,300 drivers lose their lives on Cape Town highways every year.

Motorists there now have to use a hands-free device while driving and cannot hold a phone with “one or both hands or with any other part of the body” (which makes us think South Africans are a far more flexible people than we Americans are).

If you’re caught breaking the new law, you can be dinged with a $600 fine and — horrors! — see your beloved cell phone locked up for 24 hours. And since more and more people are now addicted to their mobile devices, that may be the harshest punishment of all.

[Mail & Guardian]