Brussels Region wants to reduce use of smartphones while driving
Making calls while driving may soon be a thing of the past in Belgium’s capital. The Brussels region is working on a digital solution that would allow the smartphone screen to be blocked in order to prevent motorists from calling while driving. The use of the smartphone via the hands-free kit will remain possible.
The problem of the telephone while driving is a real scourge in the Brussels Region. In 2018, some 10.451 drivers were fined, or nearly 29 motorists fined each day. Although the numbers are decreasing, they are still high.
There have been several awareness-raising campaigns in the past, but now Bianca Debates (CD&V), Brussels Secretary of State for Road Safety and Digital Transition, wants to go one step further.
“A call for projects has been launched for initiatives that combine road safety and the digital dimension. It is likely that one or the other project will involve a system to block the telephone as soon as the car is in motion. It would first be a voluntary pilot project”, explains Debaets.
This blocking system would be done via the SafeDrivePod application. “The motorist installs a small device that would allow the smartphone screen to be locked when the person is driving, preventing him from viewing his messages and other applications”, explains Touring.
The operation of this too is very simple. First step, just install the device – it is smaller than a 50-cent coin – in the front passenger compartment before downloading the SafeDrivePod application to the smartphone. When the driver enters his vehicle, SafeDrivePod automatically connects via Bluetooth to the smartphone.
As soon as the vehicle exceeds a speed of 10 km/hour, the pod locks the smartphone’s display. It is only deactivated if the user is stopped for more than 30 seconds, for example in a major traffic jam.
On the other hand, SafeDrivePod allows you to easily use your smartphone to make or receive a call with the hands-free kit, and is thus less radical than other phone blocking solutions.
Fearing for the privacy
According to a recent study, 10% of Belgian drivers continue to make calls with their mobile in their hands, and this type of application helps to stop the phenomenon.
However, this solution as already been tested in several companies. “Employees were concerned about this tool, fearing for their privacy”, says Benoît Godart, spokesperson for traffic safety institute, Vias.
SafeDrivePod is a Dutch invention. At the English road safety congress Brake Road Safety Fleet has won the Fleet Safety Product Award for ‘the product that has the most impact on road safety through innovation’.
The company SafeDrivePod, headquartered in Oosterbeek, operates in more than 20 countries. Its customers include global fleet owners, insurers and leasing companies. Touring has also tested SafeDrivePod for two weeks. Their findings were positive, but they feel that the consumption of the smartphone battery can be optimized because it is now running out of power quickly by the localization.