More drivers fined for mobile phone use

The police are drawing up more reports about people found using their mobile phones in their hand behind the wheel of their car. During the first half of 2010 65,677 fines were issued. The figure is up 10% in comparison with the same period in 2009.

All the figures for 2010 have not yet been processed, but if the trend set in the first half of the year continues fines will have been issued to some 130,000 drivers found using their mobile phone in their hand while driving. This works out at 360 fines a day raising 13 million euros over the year as a hole.

Under Belgian law motorists are only allowed to phone using a hands free set.

The fine is set at 100 euros, but seems insufficient to deter many drivers. A survey by the Traffic Safety Institute did show that 81% of drivers is convinced that using a handset while driving in unacceptable. However, 50% of drivers continue to use their mobile behind the wheel.

The Federal Police insist that the risk of getting caught will increase further this year. The police are launching a number of special surveillance operations. Meanwhile, the Traffic Safety Institute has started a new campaign aimed at discouraging motorists from using their mobile in their hand behind the wheel.

American research shows that the risk of an accident is between 5 and 6 times higher when phoning and failing to use a hands free set.