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Harsher Penalties for Phone Use Promised

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In his first major interview since taking back the role, the new Director General of Traffic, Pere Navarro, announced a variety of changes being investigated which he hopes will start to reverse the trend of road fatalities.

The first major change is for harsher penalties for talking on a mobile phone whilst driving. Navarro stated that an increase in the loss of penalty points, doubling to up to six is currently being studied.

Navarro said that “since 2016 distractions are the first cause of fatal accidents ahead of alcohol and speed,” a particular problem has become the “excessive or inappropriate use of the mobile phone.”

“It is not our problem, it is widespread throughout Europe and we must give it visibility and importance,” he said.

Whilst talking about the possibility of banning hands free systems, Navarro clarified that “it is as harmful to talk with the hands-free because of the distraction as having the phone in your hand”.

“Those of us who work in road safety say that hands-free has not been a good idea, what happens is true that the novelty, technology and the companies behind us passed over everyone,” he said.

Regarding GPS navigation, Navarro has indicated that he would like it if they detected that the vehicle was in motion and so do not permit reprogramming of an address.

“We ask, we suggest, we request it but we return to the same thing, it is such the power of the industry and the novelty that we could not achieve it,” he stressed.

He is sure that mobile manufacturers will install a “car mode” that some phones already have incorporated because “they have a certain responsibility to everyone around this business”.

“Those who make their living with mobile telephony are going to have to move, it’s what is called corporate social responsibility, you have to do something to address the problems that may have created excessive and inappropriate use of your business”, he considered.

However, there are currently no plans of reducing the rate of alcohol because in other countries in Europe where a zero limit is set, they still have a lot of problems, “major players such as Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have the same rate as us”.

The DGT is also looking at alternatives to the warning triangle, after a spate of incidents because occupants of a vehicle have been overwhelmed following a breakdown and lack of visibility.

All of these plans are currently only open to a discussion stage, although it is clear that reforms will be implemented as the trend for road-based deaths has to decline, and with the driver seeimingly reluctant to play their part, legislation looks set to be the only way forward.

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