Road safety body urges minister to up fines for using smartphone while driving

Is this as dangerous as drunk driving? Photo:

Road safety group Veilig Verkeer Nederland has written to acting justice minister Stef Blok urging him to increase the punishment for using a smartphone while driving.

The minister said at the end of last month he is working on new legislation to increase the penalties for people involved in serious traffic offences which includes changes to the official definition of ‘reckless behaviour’.

Although drunk driving and speeding can be considered reckless behaviour, higher courts rarely accept them as such when handing out punishments.

VVN said on Wednesday that it considers drunk driving, driving at very high speeds and using smartphones to be a form of reckless driving. Fines for drunk driving currently begin at €300 while using a smartphone will lead to a fine of €230.

Research by national statistics office CBS earlier this year showed that one in 10 motorists sends smartphone messages while driving without having a hands-free set.

Around 600 fatal or serious incidents a year in the Netherlands are linked to people making calls or using social media behind the wheel.

The VVN is currently working with phone firm KPN on developing a smartphone app which will stop phones being used by cyclists.