Belgian Federal Police will launch a crackdown against distracted driving on 18-19 May. In Belgium, distracted driving incidents amount to around 25% of road accidents each year.
The Federal Police, in collaboration with 110 police zones, will carry out increased checks targeting mobile phone use while driving and other forms of distracted driving.
A recent survey by the Walloon Agency for Road Safety (AWSR) revealed disturbing statistics on the habits of Belgian road users. A quarter of Walloons occasionally sent texts or emails while driving, with almost a half of young men admitting to doing so.
Even at low speeds (50kmph), taking your eyes off the road for even one second means travelling 14 metres blind. This increases to 33 metres at high speeds (120kmph).
Federal Police assert that mobile phone use is not the only major source of distraction while driving. Police have witnessed Belgians put on make-up at the wheel, cut their nails, or attempt to find items in the car such as food, leading drivers to not pay attention to the road.
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According to studies, between 5-25% of all road accidents are caused by distracted driving. Some solutions, such as hands-free car sets, improve driver concentration, however, they can still cause distraction. Mobile phones alone cause around 50 deaths and 4,500 injuries on Belgian roads each year.
Belgian police have become increasingly strict about the use of mobile phones while driving. In March, the police increased the penalties for their use, with fines rising from €116 to €174.
Changes to the highway code last year have now ensured a legal obligation to use hands-free kits for phones. If you use your phone as a GPS without a holder, you may be pulled over by the police.