"Smartphone has replaced a pint of beer"

The Belgian Institute for Road Safety (BIVV) is starting a new campaign against using your smartphone (or cell phone) while driving. Research has shown that it's especially people in their 20ies or 30ies that are using their mobile phone while driving a car. However, this is even more dangerous than driving with too much alcohol in your blood, the BIVV warns.

The new campaign will kick off after summer. Research has shown that using a smartphone behind the wheel involves more risks than using a traditional mobile phone. "It takes more of your attention as you need more concentration due to the small touch buttons on the screen", researchers say.

More than 3 in 10 Belgian drivers admit that they pick up the phone while driving. 80 per cent of the drivers in their twenties read text messages. This number is still above 70 per cent among those in their thirties, over 60 per cent for those over 40 and down to 30 per cent for those in their fifties. 

Fines of 110 euros

Studies abroad have shown that drivers using their smartphone have 3 to 4 times more risks to get involved in a road accident. This is compared to a factor of 2.7 for drink-driving. "It's a major problem and one which is being underestimated", explains BIVV spokesman Koen Peeters. Talking about the younger generations and the risk factors while driving, he said: "It seems the smartphone has replaced the pint of beer among youngsters."

Those that get caught will have to cough up 110 euros. The strange thing is that fewer tickets are being written: 121,000 last year compared to 124,000 five years ago.