The new rules apply to anyone who is caught using their mobile phone - with or without headphones - while driving, at the same time as committing a road infraction; such as speeding, refusing to give way, or not stopping at a red light.
Drivers are not allowed to make a phone call; send a text, message or post; have their mobile phone in their hand or interact with the phone in any way - even if using headphones.
“Using your phone” includes holding it in your hand, using or looking at it in a way that takes your attention away from the road, speaking on it, touching the screen or buttons, or otherwise engaging with the device.
Only a totally hands-free system connected to your vehicle is allowed.
The infraction was already punishable by a €135 fine and three points on the licence.
The new rules are supported by road safety group l’Association Prévention Routière (APR).
Anne Lavaud, general manager at APR, told news service FranceInfo: “This is going to make drivers realise that if they had not had their phone [in their hand], they would never have run the red light.”
Widespread phone use
A poll from July last year showed that almost two in five (37%) French people admitted to having used their mobile phone in their hand while driving, with some even saying they tended to do it more on the motorway.
This figure rises to 60% for drivers under the age of 35.
While almost two thirds (69%) said they keep their phone in their bag while driving, 43% said they keep it on the passenger seat, and 15% on their lap. Half of people aged 35 and under said they found it difficult to go without looking at their phone for more than an hour.
One in ten road accidents in France are linked to unsafe mobile phone usage by drivers, according to figures from road safety agency La Sécurité Routière; and using a phone while driving is said to triple the risk of having an accident, show figures from motorway group Association des Sociétés Françaises d’Autoroute.
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