It’s a common occurrence. A call comes through as you’re driving home from work, and you find somewhere safe to pull over and accept it. No big deal, right? Apparently not, as a French court has decided to ban the world’s favourite scapegoat, no longer allowing the use of smartphones in cars, even if that said car is parked at the side of the road, following a rise in road deaths in the country.
The law previously decreed that if you’re circulating in traffic, it is illegal to use your phone: a fair ruling. Though that law now encompasses one major clarification: the definition of “circulating” has changed.
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According to the ruling, circulating now means that you have to be parked in a designated parking spot to use your smartphone. That means even if you find a safe space to park, pull over the car, and stop the engine to use your phone, you could still be paying a 135 euros fine, with an additional three points added to your license. Though they make exceptions if you have been in an accident or are broken down. Hands-free kits have been illegal in France since 2015, although speaker systems are permitted.
“I think we should encourage motorists to stop when they’re using their phones,” a spokesperson for the French equivalent of the AA told Le Figaro.
The ruling follows a fine repeal from a driver who was parked at a roundabout with his hazard lights on. Something which is clearly irresponsible, and I’d argue, an isolated case. France has often had trouble tackling road deaths and has seen the deaths slowly rise year on year. Just last month, in another attempt to tackle the problem, the French government reduced the speed limit on two-lane roads from 55mph to 50mph.