A recent survey shows a decline in the mobile phone usage while driving, down from 4.4% in 2014 to 2.9%, in passenger cars, and down to 3.3% averaged across all vehicle types.Unfortunately in trucks and commercial vehicles the rate is 5%. The measurement has been taken from monitoring of cars near intersections where the drivers can be seen as they slow or stop, with a massive sample size of 100,000 vehicles, from 86 points in all provinces.
The higher rates for trucks, such as couriers, are considered to be because drivers are working while driving, all the more reason to be equipped with a handsfree facility, according to Tadeusz Wilk of the Association of International Road Carriers “Zrzeszenia Międzynarodowych Przewoźników Drogowych”:
They are often representatives of companies, or couriers, who try to perform other work duties. Of course, in no way it’s an excuse, because first of all those people, who spend most of the day behind the wheel, should take care to be equipped with handsfree.
The survey was conducted by the National Road Safety Council at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development.
Perhaps the decline is related to penalties. Drivers know that the Police are increasingly on the lookout for offenders. In 2012, there were 27,000 offenders caught. In 2013, 89,000, and in 2014, 120,000.
Each offender is fined 200 złoty and given 5 penalty demerit points. This means that last year alone, mobile calls while driving cost drivers a total of 24 million złoty in fines, and 600,000 demerit points. This may have inspired drivers to get handsfree-enabled or defer calls to later.
Using a handsfree / speakerphone is usually the only alternative discussed, but it too has it’s opponents. Tests carried out by the American National Safety Council show that both holding the phone, and use of a speakerphone make the driver only half as aware as if they were completely focussed on driving.
Inspector Marek Konkolewski of the Polish police headquarters is in favour of handsfree:
Handsfree is perhaps not perfect, but by using it, at least we hold the steering wheel with both hands, and we have control of the car’s motion, instead of a driving style with an elbow out the window, wondering if there is a patrol nearby.
In his opinion an even bigger threat than talking on a phone held in the hand is texting while driving.
Searching for the letters on the keyboard for one second, when driving at a speed of 50 km/h, means 14 metres without looking at the road. This is a serious threat to other road users, who certainly are not going to take it lightly.
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