Police controls target distracted drivers during weekend operation
The federal highway police organised its first "weekend of attention at the wheel" operation over Saturday and Sunday, with controls set up on Belgian roads to stop people using mobile phones while driving.
The operation focused on all types of distracted driving, with an emphasis on mobile phone use while at the wheel, a phenomenon which contributes to 5% of fatal accidents. According to police estimates, this represents about 30 deaths and some 2,500 injuries each year.
Distractions in general lead to between 5 and 25% of road accidents, according to figures cited by the federal police.
"The objective is above all to raise awareness," a statement from the federal police said. Controls were carried out in all provinces of the country over the weekend, using regular patrols but also unmarked vehicles. In East Flanders, the police used an unmarked truck to monitor the behaviour of truck drivers.
"In the future, weekends of attention at the wheel are expected to become a recurring action, as is the speed control marathon and the no drink-driving weekend," the statement continued.
With this in mind, a collaboration between the federal police and local police areas from 2022 has been announced with the aim to organise a twice-yearly weekend of national controls. Although the main objective is awareness, the traffic police also emphasise that offenders will indeed be fined.
"When the use of the mobile phone or smartphone while driving has been noted by the police, it gives rise in principle to an immediate fine of €116," the police statement added. "If the case is brought before a police court, the offender is however liable to a fine of up to €2,000, as well as a driving ban."