What are the facts, and what are the solutions?
Thanks to our phones, we are nearly always connected to other people. Wherever we are, we receive messages, calls and can check our social media accounts, as well as listen to music and take pictures. Every driver has been tempted at one point or another to check their phone whilst driving because it beeped, or maybe to look up the monument they just drove past. And yet we all know that the use of mobile phones whilst driving is forbidden and can be very dangerous.
European countries and their mobile phone driving bans
Although it is obvious that mobile phones shouldn’t be used whilst driving, the actual laws and consequences of breaking them aren’t all that well known. So what is the situation like in Europe?
In Eastern Europe, the fine for contravening the mobile phone driving ban is under €50 - a lot in those countries. The fines get even higher in Western Europe. Drivers in the Netherlands are fined heavily if they use their mobile phones rather than use a legal, less-distracting, hands-free device - they receive the highest fines of all of the European countries, with drivers having to pay €420 if caught using their phones whilst driving.
In Germany, the laws concerning the use of mobile phones whilst driving have recently become more specific. Drivers are not allowed to pick up, hold or use their phone whilst the motor of the car is on. If caught using the phone, even if it´s just to control the navigation system or to click away an incoming call, drivers are required to pay fines of at least €100 if there is no accident and more if someone was endangered or an accident took place due to the use of the electronic device. Additionally, the driver gets a point on their license.
The UK is even stricter with drivers who use handheld mobile devices whilst driving. Drivers that go against the mobile phone driving ban will get six points on their license and will have to pay up to £200. If caught using their phone again, drivers will risk having to go to court and paying up to £1000 pounds, as well as receiving a driving ban for at least six months.
Both Spain and France have a ban on Bluetooth headsets such as headphones and earphones as well as on mobile phones. This means that drivers will also be fined if they are caught taking a call through an in-ear Bluetooth device. Drivers can also expect to receive three points on their license in both countries, but there is a slight difference in the size of the fines. In France, drivers have to pay a €135 fine if caught using a mobile device, whereas in Spain the fine is €200.
The danger of phones
Phones greatly impact a person’s reaction time and concentration, both of which have to be quick and sufficient whilst driving to ensure the safety of everyone involved. When using a phone, a person´s concentration is consumed by the phone and thus it takes longer for the person to take in changes in their environment. This can be dangerous whilst driving, because drivers need to be able to detect changes in the traffic and in the motion of the vehicles around them to be able to identify possible hazards and react appropriately. Every year thousands of accidents that could have been prevented occur due to the use of phones whilst driving, some resulting in severe injuries or even death.
What are the solutions?
The question we have to answer before we can figure out how to reduce the amount of people using their mobile phones whilst driving is why we have such a strong desire to use our phones in the first place. The answer to that is simple enough. Our phones offer us a variety of opportunities that make life easier and that entertain us. Instead of always having to meet people face-to-face or sending letters in the mail, we can send a quick text with WhatsApp or share a picture on Instagram. If we don’t know something, we simply have to Google it. In case of boredom, why not just play a game? Phones give us a huge amount of opportunities in the form of a very small device.
But with so much going on our phone screens, there’s no wonder that they distract us. When driving, we need all of our concentration to be on the road to avoid car crashes and accidents. Driving in itself demands a lot of attention, but if that attention is used to interact with a phone, then we don’t have the necessary concentration left to focus on the road.
There are some solutions to this problem. One example of such a solution would be a device that you don’t have to touch or even look at, but that still does everything you need it to do. At German Autolabs, we are working on creating a device like this. Our device, Chris, is not forbidden by the mobile phones driving ban and still provides you with most of the opportunities a phone offers you. Without taking your eyes off the road, you can tell your boss that you will be a bit late, or change the song in your car. Chris responds to your voice and does the things that would distract you on a phone for you. This makes driving more relaxed for you and safer for everyone.
- In a lot of European countries there is a mobile phone driving ban, which prohibits the usage of mobile phones whilst driving
- If caught using a mobile phone whilst driving, drivers may have to pay fines and could receive points on their license
- To be able to use the functions of a phone and still comply to the mobile phones driving ban and to ensure everyone´s safety, drivers can use Chris