Total EU Phone Ban While Driving Sought

Every Member State except Sweden already requires hands-free devices if they are used while driving, but the European Transport Safety Council's recent report recommends a complete ban on mobile phone use, including hands-free.

European safety agencies are pushing for a complete legislative ban on mobile phone use while driving in EU countries -- a step no Member State has taken thus far. The European Transport Safety Council last month published a "Minimising in Vehicle Distraction" report recommending a complete ban on mobile phone use, including hands-free, and also legislation to restrict the use of portable navigation devices while the vehicle is moving.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work noted the reported release on Jan. 17, and ETSC two days later posted an interview with John Klee, 3M corporate communications manager, about 3M's driving safety policies and program. "There’s really only one element – don’t use a mobile phone while you are driving," Klee says. "Even if our employees are in their private car and using their personal mobile phone, they are not allowed to make or receive business calls unless they are parked up safely with the handbrake on." He says the ban was introduced in 2008, and the most recent employee survey, in June 2010, show 42 percent approved of the ban while 37 percent did not. These results are better than when the ban was introduced, when 19 percent approved and 56 percent were against it, he says.

Ten of the 27 EU Member States currently prohibit texting while driving, according to the ETSC report. All of them except Sweden require that mobile phone use be hands-free phones while driving. The report says enforcement of distracted driving laws in the EU varies, with Spain doing the most enforcement and imposing the highest fines. About one-third of the countries do not use targeted checks by law enforcement to catch violators, the report states. It was released as part of ETSC's PRAISE (Preventing Road Accidents and Injuries for the Safety of Employees) project.

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