Cell phone ban behind the wheel: Are Bulgarian fines too low?

Written by on January 31, 2018 in Europe - Comments Off on Cell phone ban behind the wheel: Are Bulgarian fines too low?

While nobody is disputing the dangers of the use of cell phones while driving, there are EU countries in which drivers who are texting or talking into phones behind the wheel are not being fined, or in which fines are too low to serve their purpose.

Sweden is the last European country to effectively ban the use of cell phones behind the wheel. So far, drivers in Sweden were not allowed to “use their phones in a manner that could be deemed detrimental to their driving.” Of course the definition of the word detrimental was interpreted one way by drivers who insisted on using their cell phones, while the authorities had a very different idea. This issue will be resolved tomorrow, on February 1, 2018, when a new, unambiguous law comes into force.

In the meantime, Bulgarian drivers use their cell phones like crazy. Standing on the pavement of a big boulevard in Sofia while watching the drivers who are racing by will reveal that many of them do not seem to care much about the existing cell phone ban behind the wheel. Maybe this problem has to do with the low fines and the fact that the ban is hardly being enforced.

In Bulgaria, a driver who gets caught texting or talking into his or her cell phone while driving will have to pay 50 leva, the equivalent of about 25 euro. This is the second lowest fine Europe has to offer. Only in Latvia, that kind of offence is cheaper. Police officers in that country collect 15 euro from cell phone users they catch.

Most other EU countries are far more concerned about the danger of using cell phones while driving, it seems. In Hungary, the fine is 50 euro, in Greece 100 euro, in Romania 125 euro, and in The Netherlands 230 euro.

The United Kingdom really means business. Over there, police have the authority to charge up to the equivalent of 1.100 euro.

Everyone knows the dangers of texting or talking directly into a cell phone behind the wheel, including the European Commission. In a recent EC report on the matter, it says cell phone use while driving increased the likelihood of being involved in an accident “leading to either property damage or serious injury by a factor of three to four. Accident involvement risk escalates with increased cell phone use. Those driving and using cell phones a lot are twice more likely to be involved in an accident than those making minimal use of cell phones.”






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