Distractions while driving: telephone, tablet and GPS

Published on 12/03/2024

Distractions while driving: telephone, tablet and GPS

Tougher penalties for using the phone at the wheel

Just before the summer recess, MPs passed Bill 7985. Far from being insignificant, it considerably toughens penalties, particularly for using a mobile phone at the wheel.

Friday evening, 21 July. Everyone is already on holiday, except Luxembourg’s MPs. Meeting in plenary session, they voted by a large majority (56 votes) in favour of Bill 7985. Its aim is twofold. On the one hand, it facilitates the registration and civil liability cover of imported vehicles by introducing the concept of “holder of a registration certificate” and, on the other, it tightens up the legislation on road traffic offences. These tougher penalties mainly target the use of a telephone (or more generally a screen) and simplify procedures for testing for drugs at the wheel.

Since then, the legislative elections have reshuffled the cards. The law was published in the Memorial and came into force at the beginning of November. Drivers will lose 4 points (instead of 2) if they make a phone call while driving in Luxembourg. They will also have to pay a fine of €250 instead of €145. It will also be forbidden to use “telephone equipment or any other device with a lit screen” while the vehicle is in motion.

Avoiding contentious situations

In practical terms, this law should make life easier for police officers in the field, who until now have had to deal with a piece of legislation that had a number of loopholes and gave rise to contentious situations during roadside checks. “The text was no longer really up to date. We drew inspiration from French and Belgian legislation to draft this law,” explains Alain Disiviscour, head of the Road Traffic and Safety Department at the Ministry of Mobility.

So what is permitted and what is prohibited? “To sum up, you have to keep your hands on the wheel. It’s forbidden to hold a phone in your hand or operate a device with a screen while driving. It’s allowed when you’re parked, but not when you’re stopped, at a traffic light for example”, adds Alain Disiviscour.

In other words, you can use your applications, including via Android Auto or Apple Car Play, as long as you control them by voice or with the physical buttons on the steering wheel. What about the connected watch, as one MP pointed out on the day of the vote? “The question of reading the time does not arise. However, reading your messages from your connected watch remains prohibited”, the Ministry official clarified.

For its part, the ACL points out that using a phone at the wheel is a dangerous distraction. The Club recommends bringing the vehicle to a halt before consulting the device.

2 200
According to government figures, in the first six months of the year alone, some 2,200 motorists received a taxed warning for allowing themselves to be distracted by their mobile phone while driving.