Belgians 'champions' in using smartphone while driving

It's not something to be proud of, but it turns out that Belgian motorists are keen users of their smartphone while they are driving. Sending a text message, checking e-mails or making a call are favourite pastime in traffic jams or at red lights. "We just got too much used to queuing during our car journey", could be one explanation.

The French research involved 10,047 car drivers in 10 different European countries: France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands and Belgium. Each country had just over 1,000 respondents.

The global response shows that 74% of the respondents never read or send (text) messages or e-mails while driving. However, 26% can't resist the temptation and admit doing it. Looking at drivers that have picked up the bad habit, Belgium tops the list with a score of 37%, which is well above the average of 26%. In Britain this is only 15%.

Over 1 in 3 Belgians check or send online messages behind the wheel, while this is extremely dangerous. It increases the chance of having a road accident 23 times. Fines have been set at 110 euros if you get caught red-handed.

Wouter Vandenberghe of the Institute for Road Safety (BIVV) blames the many traffic jams for the bad Belgian score, but this does not mean that he approves this, on the contrary: "This kind of behaviour is extremely dangerous because you get completely distracted from what happens on the road. I think we need more awareness campaigns to put an end to these bad habits. Reading or sending messages behind the wheel is just not done."