Texting while driving: ‘it’s dangerous but everybody does it’
The VSV, Flemish Foundation for Traffic science, did a test on a closed circuit where drivers were asked to ride on an artificial road with a roundabout and a red light crossing while texting. According tot the instructor “candidates stop riding because they do not longer look into their mirrors or into the street they cross. They even start in the wrong gear.”
Flemish minister for mobility, Ben Weyts (N-VA) said: “Everybody knows it’s dangerous but nevertheless everybody does it”, after he made the test by himself. In a survey 2/3 of the Flamish surveyed people admitted having used a cell phone while driving during the past month.
Drivers between 26 an 35
One out of six even says to do this frequently. Drivers aged between 26 and 35 are the biggest risk, followed by company car drivers, self-employed persons and drivers who drive more than 30.000 km a year.
There are no Flemish figures about accidents caused by the use of mobile phones. However a European study points out that phone usage is involved in 10 to 30% of car accidents. The minister admits the risk of being caught is very small because the police has to look into the car to fine an offender. Afterwards lots of drivers argue they were not texting, just putting their phone aside.
VSV pleads for self regulation and the use of apps that cuts of the phone communication while driving at a speed of 15 km/h or more. This also cuts of the (legal) possibility of using a handsfree system to make a phone call and the app can not detect whether you are in a car as a driver or a passenger.
Weyts thinks about an obligation of this kind of apps for company cars. He will launch an information campaign which will cost 300.000 euro.