In Romania, on the 12 of October 2019, a new law in the traffic regulations was passed. The law stated that the driver cannot hold or use in any way mobile devices which have the function of recording, displaying text, photo or video. According to Pro TV news, on the very same day the law was passed, in Bucharest, the police gave at least 35 tickets for using the phone while driving, coming up to a total of 30.000 lei in contraventions in only one city in Romania. According to the AutoBlog website, 45.000 euros was the contraventions sum registered by the Romanian Police in the first two days all over the country. This law has proven to be effective in an incredibly short time span because of the high number of people that were using their phone that otherwise might have ended up in an accident. On the 3rd of April 2020, president Klaus Iohannis has enacted the law by allowing the use of cellphones while driving only through handsfree devices. But distractions can come in all shapes and sizes.
Social norms and self-identity issues power up our need for creating interesting posts. As we receive our drivers’ license we succumb to the need of always filming our new car, in traffic or not. Posting videos, stories on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat is not cool, it’s a blind to danger habit. According to lawyernc.com more than 16 million Snapchat users admit to using the phone while driving in order to use video and photo features. It is imperative not only for our safety, but for others’ as well to understand the life threatening implications this brings. These social media related operations while driving fall into the category of distracted driving. Distracted driving has caused in Romania, in 2016, 270 car accidents out of which 68 people died, according to treazlavolan.ro. In the U.S., distracted driving is responsible for more than 400.000 car accident injuries and as many as 3.000 fatalities each year, states the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
It is rather impossible to prevent any distractions whatsoever. Accidents do not occur because we are talking on the phone but because we pay attention to it. It is estimated that it takes 5 seconds for your eyes to stop focusing on the road and on the text you are trying to send. Assuming that you go at 55 MPH your chances of a car crash are increased three times, according to thenewswheel.com. In opposition, Florin, a 24 years old driver and student says he uses the phone while driving: “I know it’s stupid but…lack of occupation. At a certain point, you drive so much that it is like sleep. And if you take the phone, I, at least, would not be bothered if someone called me and I would answer.”
Drunk vs. phone drunk
According to a comparison study, there is a difference between drunk drivers and cell-phone drivers. Cell phone drivers apparently react slower, and by not paying much attention they try to make it better by distancing their vehicle from the one in front. The intoxicated drivers however act more rashly, so they get closer to the car in front. With this being said, the time to react while driving impairments are far greater for the cell-phone drivers than drunk drivers. According to the Harvard Health Publishing website, alcohol “depresses the central nervous system. It acts like a sedative or tranquilizer, slowing your motor coordination and reaction time. It also harms judgment, memory, reasoning, and self control.” Driving while intoxicated is a big no-no because of how much it affects a person mentally and physically. The previous comparison study also wants to cast doubt on the fact that the regulations for hand-held devices should also be applied to hands-free devices due to the fact that they are pretty much the same.
This map hows the harsh contravention prices for each country. Two stand out as the harshest: Spain and the Netherlands. In Spain the contravention sum seems to be of 200 euros or higher and they do not allow for bluetooth headsets, earphones, or headphones. According to Cellular News website, the first country in Europe to ban cell phone use while driving is Denmark with its’ ban since July 1998. The map above is from 2017 and now in 2019 Romania can proudly join this mobile driving ban map. No one is above the law and certainly no one is above dying so leave the instastories for when you are at least safely parked for your well being and those around you.