France Could Fine Smartphone Use While Driving, Even if You're Parked Up

By Tom Pritchard on at

Apparently France is having an issue with car accidents at the moment, so it's taken to blaming everyone's favourite scapegoats. No, not millennials, the smartphone. A French court has declared it's illegal use a smartphone while you're sitting in the drivers's seat of a car, even if you've pulled over somewhere safe.

Le Figaro is reporting that it's now illegal for drivers to hold their phone on public roads, at least it is according to a new court ruling. While many people would assume that pulling over to be the safe thing to do, seeing as how you can't cause an accident if the car is parked up and not blocking traffic, but it still carries a penalty of €135 and three points on your licence for three years.

This isn't a new law per-se, rather it's a change in what it means to be "circulating in traffic". It's a decision that came after a driver appealed a fine he was given for parking on a roundabout with his hazard lights on so he could use his phone.

In fairness what that driver did is horrendously stupid, and only an idiot would think it's ok to park on a roundabout to use their phone - hazards or not. Obviously typing away at your phone is a stupid thing to do if you're moving, but unless you're either in a designated parking spot or dealing with a breakdown you're not allowed to use your phone. It's not enough to turn off your engine or pull into a side-street, even though those are usually considered perfectly good parking spots here in the UK.

The Automobile Club Association, France's equivalent of the AA, has criticised the move, with a spokesperson claiming drivers should be encouraged to stop when using their phones.

France clearly seems to have an issue with drivers using their phones, to the point where it banned the use of hands-free kits in 2015. The government has also been doing whatever it can to reduce the rising number of road deaths, and recently reduced speed limits on two-lane roads from 90km/h to 80 km/h (55 mph to 50 mph).

Considering smartphones are useful for a lot more than just calls, and with the rising number of services designed to let drivers safely access necessary features like GPS it makes me wonder what will happen to French laws in the future. Watching Netflix or surfing Facebook while driving shouldn't be condoned, but are people going to be punished for linking their car up to systems CarPlay or Android Auto?

It's something to be aware of next time you're in driving in France. [Le Figaro | The Local via Engadget]

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