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France set to suspend licenses of drivers caught using mobile phones

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France set to suspend licenses of drivers caught using mobile phones
Photo: Felicitie Leon/Flickr
12:56 CET+01:00
The French government is to consider stripping motorists of their driving permits if they are caught using their mobile phones at the wheel as part of the latest raft of measures to cut road deaths.

The French government has vowed to tackle the rising number of deaths on the country's roads and has set its sights on speeding drives and motorists who use their phones at the wheel.

On Tuesday it is set to announce a raft of measures aimed at boosting safety on roads including a controversial plan to cut the speed limit on country roads (departmental roads) from 90km/h to 80km/h.

But the government also wants to target the dangerous habit of drivers using their mobile phones to talk, or even send messages, when driving.

According to French media site RTL the government wants to impose a three month suspension of a driver's permit if they are caught using their mobile phone whilst driving.

This punishment would only be imposed on those drivers who were considered to have caused danger to others, for example if a motorist is on the phone whilst approaching a pedestrian crossing or a school.

Telephones play a part in ten percent of road accidents in France, according to figures published in October last year by France's road safety organisation Sécurité Routière.

Using a mobile phone at the wheel is currently banned in France and those caught are subject to fines of €135 and three penalty points.

In 2015 some 300,000 drivers in France were fined after being caught using their phone.

A recent survey revealed that nine out of 10 drivers in France admitted using their smartphone to make calls whilst driving or even to keep an eye on messages they had received.

France has a bad record for the number of fatal accidents that occur on its roads, with the death toll in 2016 reaching 3,469.
 
The possible law change comes at a time when road mortality has been on the rise since 2014 -- the longest period of sustained increase since 1972.

French governments have regularly introduced new measures over the years in a bid to tackle the number of road deaths.

In 2015 they banned the use of hands-free kits for mobile phones.

At the time Jehanne Collard, a lawyer for victims of road accidents in France and an author of a book of the subject said habits needed to change.
 
"There is a real deterioration in terms of the behavior on the road. Fatal accidents often involving cyclists, pedestrians and scooter drivers are related to excessive speeds and risk-taking, such as blind overtaking," she told Le Figaro.
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