A new traffic law toughens the penalty for holding and using a mobile phone while driving, subtracting six points from the licence instead of the three as in the previous regulations. The fine remains at 200 euros.
But what happens if the mobile is in a holder?
The director of the The Directorate-General for Traffic, Pere Navarro, helped clear a few things up in a recent digital meeting on the DGT website.
During the meeting he pointed out that as long as the phone remains in an approved stand and is not used while driving, drivers will have no problems. “If a person needs to use their phone, they should stop at a suitable place and finish what they need to do before continuing their journey,” he said. He went on to explain that if a phone is used while in a stand, there will be three points deducted from the licence and the fine stays at 200 euros.
Participants of the meeting said that if a hand-held mobile is not switched on while carried in the hand, it should not be punishable, to which Navarro replied: "the officers of the ATGC (Civil Guard Traffic Group ) cannot and should not dedicate themselves to checking if the mobile is turned on or not”.
Pere Navarro also alluded to other devices that are permissible. The new traffic law allows the use of wireless or approved devices in the vehicle as long as they do not need the use of hands or helmets, headphones or similar instruments. How to know if they are approved? The director of the DGT explained that you should consult with the seller or check the manufacturer's instructions and verify that it has the correct approval label.
However, the new regulations do allow headsets and other wireless devices on motorcycles and mopeds but solely for purposes of navigation. This includes intercoms in motorcycle helmets. The distinction between the use of such equipment in cars and motorcycles was justified by Navarro saying:“these devices are EU approved and have passed all the controls. Its objective here is to increase the safety of the motorcyclist. Its improper use is beyond the norm.”
Carrying a mobile between the helmet and the user's head is still punishable and will result in the loss of three points.
When it comes to smart watches, including ones that receive calls, Navarro pointed out that "because you do not have to hold them by hand in order to use them, they do not interfere with driving" and added that "they will be treated as hands-free devices in the new law".