VSV: ‘smartphone in car holder is no safe option’

Flemish drivers are thick-headed. Despite earlier campaigns and an official ban, three out of ten Flemish motorists still use their cell phone, holding it in their hands or having it lying next to them while driving. A rather large group, one in three, uses it when the device sits in a fixed holder on the dashboard, which is the only way allowed. But that isn’t a safe option either.

That is why the Flemish Foundation for Traffic Science (Vlaamse Stichting Verkeerskunde, VSV) launched a new campaign on Monday. Since March 2022, smartphones and similar devices must be fixed in a suitable holder to be used hands-free. So, a driver can no longer use his cell phone when it’s lying around in the car, on the passenger seat, on the central console, or on his lap.

‘Focus on the road’

When the cell phone is fixed in a holder, it is legally allowed, although it still is advised against. After all, in the few seconds you look at the screen, you drive blindly and cannot react if something unexpected suddenly happens. “This visual distraction can be highly dangerous for yourself and other road users,” says Lydia Peeters (Open Vld), Flemish Minister for Mobility.

With the new campaign ‘Focus on the road, not on your cell phone’, the VSV wants to help drivers to stay focused in traffic. “Prepare your trips,” advises Werner De Dobbeleer, spokesperson for VSV. “Plan your trip and install your favorite music before you start driving. Then your trip will be safer and more comfortable.”

33 567 offenses in six months

In the first half of last year, the police registered 33 567 offenses for mobile phone use while driving in Flanders alone. Manipulating a cell phone while driving is considered an offense of ‘third degree’, meaning that the fine to be paid will rise from €116 to €174 for a single offense.

When summoned before the police court, the judge can impose fines of 240 to 4 000 euros, and a driving ban is also possible. For recidivists, even stricter penalties apply.




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