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Drivers handed record number of speeding fines in 2021
Drivers in Belgium received a record number of fines for speeding in 2021, with cases of drug-driving and mobile phone use also on the rise, new figures compiled by the federal police reveal.
Federal and local police forces around the country recorded six million driving offences last year - a 13% increase on 2020. Most of these were for speeding - 4.66 million fines, the highest number ever recorded and up 14.5% on the previous year.
The increase is mainly due to the installation of more speed cameras - especially average-speed radars, which calculate a vehicle's speed over a long stretch of road instead of at a fixed point. Staff numbers have also been reinforced at the regional centres that analyse speed camera data and images, allowing more fines to be issued.
Meanwhile, the Belgian federal police said it was paying "ever greater attention" to cases of distracted driving, where drivers are caught using a mobile phone. The number of fines for this offence were up by 6% in a year to 114,739.
There was also a 20% annual increase in fines for driving under the influence of drugs, at 13,185, which the police said was due to a simplified screening procedure. Officers now routinely take a saliva sample at accident scenes if they suspect drug-driving, instead of a blood test.
Drink-driving offences in 2021 were down by a third compared with 2019. This was partly due to Belgium's coronavirus restrictions, which included a late-night curfew and enforced closing times for bars and restaurants. Drink-driving checks by police were also scaled back during this period.
According to the federal police, most of Belgium's road deaths can be blamed on four factors: excessive speed, driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, distracted driving and failing to wear a seatbelt.
"The numbers speak for themselves," said Koen Ricour, director of the federal road police. "There is still a lot of room for improvement among Belgian drivers when it comes to compliance with the traffic rules and I urge them to take the rules seriously."