Do you ever use WhatsApp behind the wheel? Then you know you’re wrong. But in Belgium it can really cost you dearly. You are in fact a danger on the road, because you are not busy with traffic. That’s why residents in Halle-Vilvoorde and East Flanders can temporarily lose their driver’s license if the police catch them.
The public prosecutor’s office in Belgium announces this through its own website. There you can read that your driving license there can be taken away for up to eight days. Smartphone use behind the wheel has “increased significantly” in recent years, according to the OM.
WhatsApp behind the wheel
This is according to a European survey, in which people give openness about their smartphone use. One in four people say they read or send messages when they should actually be busy with their car. And one in six people say they still do not use hands-free phones while driving.
The application (Image: Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)
The police immediately take notice of the new rules. For example, the Belgian newspaper De Morgen writes about a 39-year-old man from Antwerp who has to surrender his driver’s license for eight days. He was probably using his smartphone behind the wheel of his van.
Belgium takes action
By the way, this is not the only action Belgium is taking against smartphone use behind the wheel. Last year, the parliamentary committee already voted on a new law to prohibit holding a smartphone behind the wheel. Belgians can expect heavy fines for this.
Here in the Netherlands we also participate: checking your WhatsApp while driving is prohibited. You are not allowed to hold your smartphone while behind the wheel. It does not matter whether you are in a car or on a bicycle; in both cases the police can issue a fine.