AWSR : ‘using smartphone while driving is stupid’
The Walloon Agency for Road Safety (AWSR) is launching a new campaign designed to stop drivers to use their phones while at the steering wheel of their cars. One out of ten accidents are caused by a kind of behaviour that the agency doesn’t hesitate to call ‘stupid’.
The Walloon driver is full of paradox. 85% of interrogated persons declare to be annoyed by drivers using their phones while at the wheel and 89% considers it dangerous. However, at the same time one Walloon driver out of two admits doing this himself. Only one third is using a Bluetooth car kit.
For this year only, already 18.000 drivers have been fined for using their phones while driving. This is for using the phone in the hand, using voice recognition and a handsfree or Bluetooth system is fully authorized by the law in Belgium.
“We have the impression that it’s a socially accepted behaviour, but it isn’t. It annoys everyone”, explains AWSR’s spokesperson, Belinda Demattia. “They know the risks, aren’t okay with the behaviour when someone else is doing it, but they do it themselves anyway”, adds Mathieu Roynard from the AWSR.
One accident out of ten
“Using a phone while driving causes one accident out of ten”, confirms Walloon Road Safety Minister, Carlo Di Antonio (cdH). A distracted driver misses around half of the information about its surroundings and the risk can be three or four times higher when phoning without a handsfree system. If the driver writes a text message, the risk is multiplied by 23.
The agency has demonstrated that smartphones are more dangerous in that matter than ‘normal’ phones, because of the numerous possibilities of communication they offer.
Obviously, the youth is more concerned by this: 44% of 18- to 34-year-olds admit using their phone while driving, whereas only 13% of 55-year-olds do the same. Men are more concerned, especially long-distance drivers (58%) and professional drivers (41%).
To try to counter that behaviour, the AWSR will launch a campaign specially designed for the youth. It will be composed of short adverts shown in cinemas and more traditional displays bordering motorways. “We’re not afraid of using more offensive terms”, admits the AWSR manager, Patric Derduwen. “In short, smartphones encourage stupid behaviour.”