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Drivers snapping photos of lorry accident to be fined €116

17:29 22/05/2019

More than 100 drivers headed westbound on the E40 this morning will be getting fines in the mail for taking photos or video of the accident at Wetteren. The crash involving a lorry happened at about 7.00 this morning in the eastbound lanes.

The lorry had entered the E40 from Wetteren, a few kilometres east of Ghent, and the driver lost control apparently because of vehicular malfunction. The 22-ton lorry turned on its side, crossing all three lanes.

While the driver escaped unharmed, and no other vehicles were involved, it was quite an impressive sight. This did not go unnoticed by commuters headed in the other direction towards the sea, many of whom slowed down to snap photos or shoot video.

Those caught on traffic cams will be receiving a fine in the mail for €116, as it is illegal in Belgium to take photos when operating a vehicle. Just like texting behind the wheel, it is considered an unsafe activity, but the law also hopes to prevent tailbacks due to slowing down to get the perfect shot.

It took five hours to free up the motorway, including getting the truck righted and towed away and cleaning up all debris. Traffic was stopped from entering the motorway, clogging up alternative arteries heading to Aalst and Brussels. While there were still traffic problems there this afternoon, it is expected to be largely cleared up by 17.00.

Explanation with your fine

Speaking of fines, a new system has just been put in place that sees drivers receiving information sheets with their fines. Covering topics like alcohol locks and texting behind the wheel, they explain to the receiver of the fine the dangers involved in that specific activity.

For instance, should you be caught doing 90 in a 70kph zone, you will come away knowing that an accident at 90kph is the same as falling from the 11th floor of a building. Sending a text message while driving, meanwhile, takes your eyes off the road for an average of 658 metres.

The idea is to not just punish the driver but explain why the offence is dangerous. “The messages are intended to get the driver thinking,” said justice minister Koen Geens. “You learn, for instance, that driving over the speed limit doesn’t actually save you much time.”

Photo: Taken through the bars of a viaduct that crosses the E40 at Wetteren
©M Galle/VRT

Written by Lisa Bradshaw