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Belgium launches campaign against texting while driving

12:24 31/07/2014

The Belgian Institute for Road Safety (IBSR/BIVV) has launched a new campaign aimed at publicising the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving. According to the institute, half of all drivers have read or sent text messages while driving, and 45% have called without using a hands-free device in the past year. That means that for every 30 cars on the road, there is one where the driver is calling or texting.

According to research, calling while driving leads to three or four times the chance of having an accident, unless calling hands-free. In the case of texting, the chances are 23 times more.

The campaign was launched at the dodgem car attraction at the Midi Fair in Brussels, where members of the press were invited to try driving one of the dodgems while operating a mobile phone. A poster which will appear in the coming month on 650 billboards alongside Belgian roads showing a driver reading a text, about to drive into the back of another vehicle. A website offers tips and advice to drivers.

Meanwhile IBSR/BIVV has also expressed support for the adoption of a system like the one in force in the UK, where police can take possession of a driver's mobile phone after any accident, no matter how minor, for investigation into whether he or she was calling or texting at the time of the accident.

The British system is also supported by motoring organisation Touring. “Campaigns are absolutely necessary, but they're not enough in and of themselves,” said spokesperson Danny Smagghe.

The Privacy Commission, however, expressed doubts. “The breach of privacy involved would have to be justified by the gravity of the incident,” spokesperson Eva Wiertz said. “If an officer has clear evidence that [mobile phone use] took place or if the motorist hands over the phone willingly, then there's no problem. But taking possession of phones systematically seems to be a step too far.”

campaign image courtesy IBSR/BIVV

Written by Alan Hope



A campaign is all very well but where are the police enforcing the law? It's incredible the number of people I see driving around with a mobile phone glued to their ear but a police car is a rare sight.

Aug 1, 2014 14:55