Just stop already with the smartphone while driving, urges campaign

Summary

While a vast majority of drivers think reading and sending messages while driving is not OK, half of them do it, according to the Flemish Traffic Management Foundation

‘Car mode’

A new campaign launched by the Flemish Traffic Management Foundation (VSV) is encouraging citizens to put their mobile phones on “do not disturb” while driving. The campaign also suggests putting the phone where you cannot see it.

According to a VSV study, a vast majority of drivers – more than 90% – find it unacceptable to read or send messages on mobile phones while driving. And yet many of those same respondents admit to doing it.

More than 60% of drivers said they make hands-free phone calls while driving, while nearly half said that they read messages. Four in 10 drivers actually send messages from behind the wheel.

“Most people realise that it’s dangerous and illegal, but at the same time, they feel a desperate urge to react immediately every time they get a notification,” says Werner De Dobbeleer of VSV. “Our study shows that most people want to limit their use of their telephones, but they find it difficult to do so and are looking for advice.”

‘Car mode’ is the conscious effort to avoid smartphone distractions in traffic

- Werner De Dobbeleer of VSV

The campaign, known as Automodus, or Car Mode, encourages drivers to put their phones into “car mode” when they drive. That means turning off the sound or using “do not disturb”, as well as putting the phone in the glove compartment, in a bag or briefcase or – even better – in the back seat.

“ ‘Car Mode’ is the conscious choice to avoid smartphone distractions in traffic,” says De Dobbeleer. Some of the newer phone models can set “do not disturb” on automatically when it connects with the car via Bluetooth. There are also apps to help, such as AutoModus, Drivemode and In-Traffic Reply. These options can be particularly helpful when the phone has to stay in the line of sight of the driver, such as when a GPS is being used.

The Automodus campaign is being carried out in co-operation with all mobile providers operating in Flanders – Base, Mobile Viking, Orange, Proximus, Scarlet and Telenet. It is the first time all the operators have been on board a VSV campaign.

Photo: Getty Images