Some 70% of Walloons have some form of mobile phone addiction and almost half say they use cellphones at least occasionally while driving, despite the danger, according to a study published on Thursday by the Walloon Road Safety Agency (AWSR).
The AWSR aims to take advantage of World Day without Mobile Phones, Monday 6 February, to raise awareness of this issue among Walloons.
According to the survey of 2,300 Walloon drivers aged between 18 and 65, 36% of those polled said they take the risk of using their phones at the wheel because of pressure to be contactable, both for their jobs and for their close circle of friends.
Around four out of ten drivers (41%) said they check their phones at the wheel simply as a reflex and 30% out of fear of missing important information, the study added.
The AWSR points out, however, that this dependence can have serious consequences on the road: when driving, the risks are multiplied by at least three during a call and by ten when sending a message, even in a traffic jam or when stopped at a light.
In Wallonia, a weekly average of 15 accidents with fatalities or injuries are linked to the use of the mobile phone at the wheel.
For World Day without Mobile Phones, the AWSR will therefore raise awareness among Walloons, in particular by inviting callers to hang up when the person to whom they are talking is at the wheel.
The agency also advises motorists to activate the 'do not disturb' mode on their smartphones before they set out on any journey. That allows an automatic message to be sent to the person calling them.