Texting While Driving

Several countries looking to crack down on mobile phone use at the wheel

  • February 12, 2017

A ban on mobile phone use while driving, tougher enforcement and a driving mode for devices are some of the options being explored by governments around Europe as data show distracted driving’s deadly impact continues unabated.

The Dutch Transport Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen told the AD newspaper last November that the government was considering several options to reduce the risk of distracted driving, including a full ban or requiring that certain features, such as Pokémon Go, be switched off automatically above a certain speed. The UK government met with phone makers in December to discuss a similar ‘driving mode’ measure, according to a report in The Guardian newspaper.

In Germany, DVR, an ETSC member, is calling for fines for distracted driving to be increased significantly, a suggestion backed by the German Police Union.  Belgium is looking at increasing enforcement of distracted driving but has no plans to increase fines, according to the transport minister François Bellot. The Belgian Road Safety Institute (BRSI), an ETSC member, says distraction is on the increase with eight in ten drivers admitting to using their phone while driving.

Insurance company research in Germany recently found that distraction may now be responsible for more deaths than drink driving.  However, there is a lack of good data from collision investigation on distracted driving.  German and UK experts have recently called for more routine checks on the mobile devices of people involved in collisions that result in death or serious injury. British police have also suggested that confiscating mobile phones and SIM cards might act as a useful deterrent.