‘More Belgian traffic offenses than ever in 2019’
In 2019, the police registered more traffic offenses than ever. And an increase of 7,5% compared to 2018. Also, the number of drivers that were drink-driving went up. “High time to lower the permitted alcohol level in the blood from 0,5 to 0,2 percent,” says Koen Ricour, director of the federal traffic police. A zero-tolerance would even be better: it could save 1 600 lives a year.
Last year, 5 518 901 drivers were fined by the local and federal police. “More than ever,” confirms Ricour. Precisely 51 283 drivers – mostly male drivers – were caught with too much alcohol in their blood or an increase of 5,3%. Most drivers caught are in their twenties (24,3%), followed by those in their thirties (23,9%), 22,2% are in their forties, and 17,5% are fifty or older.
For Koen Ricour, these figures are worrying. That is why he pleads for more controls, and further lowering of the alcohol limit. According to a report of the European organization for traffic safety, (ETSC), more than 5.000 of 25.000 people are killed each year in traffic accidents in the European Union due to the combination of driving and drinking. Belgium even is the world leader in drink-driving.
Incidents of speeding
“Many propositions have been submitted in parliament, but the law never changed,” Ricour continues. If the alcohol limit would be reduced to 0,2 percent, which is what he proposes, an adult man will only be able to drink one beer before hitting the road again; an adult woman will not even be allowed to empty her glass…
Another important part of the statistics are the incidents of speeding. In 2018, ‘only’ 3,75 million people were fined for exceeding the speed limit; last year, there were 4 million infringements or an increase of 7,7%. “Despite the flash controls and sensitizing campaigns, drivers massively ignore speed limits,” Ricour says.
More and more drugs
Not only excessive speed but also the use of the smartphone while driving is disturbing the police. Last year, 105 002 drivers were fined for calling or texting at the steering wheel. “People still don’t get it how dangerous this behavior is,” concludes Ricour.
Finally, almost 10 000 drivers were caught last year for having used drugs or an increase of 28,7% compared to 2018. “And in the coming years, these figures will only rise, I’m afraid,” Ricour says. “Not only because there are more controls, but also because drugs simply are on the rise. Since 2011, the statistics show significant growth in the use of cannabis, amphetamines, and cocaine.”