Motorway emergency telephones bound to disappear

The Flemish government wants to stop investments in the emergency phones along the motorways. They are too expensive and hardly anybody is using them, the Flemish Mobility Minister Ben Weyts explains. He says the decision was taken to save money.

There are about 1,350 emergency telephone units along Flemish motorways, bringing a maintenance cost of 800,000 euros per year. The whole of last year had 3,000 calls. This means that each call cost about 250 euros.

As the emergency phones are hardly being used, the Flemish government has chosen to stop pumping cash into the system. "Each unit is costing 600 euros per month, just for maintenance", Ben Weyts (Flemish nationalist) argues. He adds that many motorists have a mobile phone now, and that many modern cars have an automatic location system which tells emergency services where to go. When the phones will actually disappear, is still unclear. 

The Belgian motoring organisation Touring is not fond of the idea. Spokesman Danny Smagghe says that they are useful as they allow a quick and efficient localisation of those calling for help. 3,000 calls per year still equals about 8 per day.