Belgium wants to ban apps like Waze from indicating alcohol checks

Belgium wants to ban apps like Waze from indicating alcohol checks
Credit: Belga/Dirk Waem

Belgium is looking into whether it can prohibit navigation apps such as Waze and Coyote from showing where alcohol and drug controls are set up, after France announced it would ban the practice from 1 November.

Drivers using navigation apps such as Waze or Coyote can, as soon as they notice a traffic jam, indicate via the app where exactly it is. The app then alerts other users so they can avoid the route.

However, this is also the case with police checks, which has raised some ethical questions, as it allows drivers who are under the influence to choose an alternative route.

The French government now wants to counter this practice and will require the apps to block certain messages and notifications for several hours. This will apply to alcohol and drugs checks, or when the police are looking for a fugitive, for example, but not to speed checks.

Federal Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet is investigating whether a ban could also be introduced in Belgium and has ordered a study on this by the traffic institute Vias.

“Hopefully politicians will follow our recommendation and warnings like these will no longer be issued,” Vias spokesperson Stef Willems said on Flemish radio on Friday, adding that the institute has been in favour of such a ban for a long time.

“That is not only to do with road safety, but it is also about someone who is not insured, and so on,” Willems said. “If everyone starts continuously warning each other about such checks, then it is just those kinds of people who are going to get away.”

Other checks, like those the police announce themselves, have a different, awareness-raising approach, he says. “With alcohol and drug controls, the idea is to catch people at unexpected moments. People must have the feeling that they can be caught.”

While the creators and users of those apps often claim that people will drive more safely by using them, Willems says that this is not the case in practice: “people buy such apps mainly to avoid fines.”

The Brussels Times

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