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Sweden stands alone on car phone free-for-all

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 15 Sep 2010, 15:15

Published: 15 Sep 2010 15:15 GMT+02:00

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According to the association between 10 and 20 people die or are seriously injured in traffic each year due to mobile use at the wheel.

"We know that the risk of accidents is much higher. We demand that the government enact legislation to introduce a handsfree requirement - the accident risk is up to 23 times greater," Motormannen CEO Maria Spetz told The Local.

Spetz said that the association has forwarded its demand to the infrastructure minister Åsa Torstensson, but has not received a satisfactory reply for why Sweden stands alone on the issue.

"I don't understand the government's stand on this. She (Torstensson) just says no, despite the fact that the Transport Administration has reports supporting the call," Spez said.

Since Albania's introduction of a handsfree requirement for the use of mobile phones while driving early this year, Sweden is now the only country in Europe without legislation on the issue.

"Sweden is a model country when it comes to traffic safety, and we should thus at least hold the same minimum standards as the rest of Europe," said Spetz.

Furthermore, Maria Spetz argues, there is widespread support for restrictions on the current mobile phone free-for-all.

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"The handsfree requirement has the broad support of Swedes. There is no reason for not introducing this requirement, when you can see the positive effects on traffic security."

The Local's attempts to contact infrastructure minister Åsa Torstensson for a comment have been unsuccessful.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:57 September 15, 2010 by Youdee
It isn't just drivers. The other day I observed a 30-something who was walking her pit bull terrier, pushing a baby carriage, talking on the phone, and rummaging for something in her purse.

I cut a wide path.

Mindfullness should be a required course in all dog training schools and on the hospitals' maternity wards! And of course, driver's ed . . .
16:55 September 15, 2010 by Brucelee@stockholm.sweden
Yes, talking with phone when driving should be restrictively re-considered by law. I have experienced many times of that mindless drivers talking on phones almost cause traffic accident.

Yes of-course I agree it is people's individual right to use phone whenever as he wishes, but when you are in a car and drive on the road, your behavior is related to other people's wellbeing in the traffic, sometime it means life.
17:07 September 15, 2010 by Debaraja
It is a pity that we have to have laws for the obvious, but is seems that there are many morons on the loose.

Is it so difficult to use the bluetooth, the hands free or the speaker phone while driving?

Do something by your own people! Don't expect the heavy hand of the law to protect you from... yourselves.
17:19 September 15, 2010 by Audrian
Accidents do not only cause death but also disability and accompanying high cost of medication! Some body responsible is sleeping!
17:23 September 15, 2010 by Keith #5083
Totally amazing.

Taken to the extreme this position could probably end up with

17:48 September 15, 2010 by spo10
Why would Åsa Torstensson be against it? It's very clear that this will do good for everybody, for their safety and also to others.
17:50 September 15, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
Rational is quite simple: With Ericsson, a large swedish phone company in the room, swedes become the authority on phones and usage, and believe they can juggle flaming torches, cook oxfilet barehanded all while talking to farmor.
18:14 September 15, 2010 by reason
There is research showing that it's not holding the phone which is most distracting, but having a phone conversation (on the phone specifically, talking to someone next to you is not nearly so bad and can even help sharpen your attention). So rather than just introducing a law for hands-frees that makes people think they are safe, it should just be illegal to talk on the phone while driving.
18:33 September 15, 2010 by americanska
For a country that publicaly claims to be able to achieve a goal of zero deaths by traffic accidents, and has spent money putting signs up so that the speed limits change every 100 meters because it's "safer", I am amazed that they have allowed people to have a little bit of freedom.
18:59 September 15, 2010 by "green Swede"
seems the us is the same as this seems to be oprah's pet peeve,albeit a good one.
21:15 September 15, 2010 by engagebrain
Swedes are not known for their conversational or social skills, but give them a song sheet or a driving seat and you can't stop them.
21:18 September 15, 2010 by Mb 65
Your car is a lethal weapon. You can always tell when the driver in front is talking on their mobile they suddenly slow down then drift from side to side. they don't even know anyone else is on the road they are to engrossed in their phone call. if someone is killed or injured due to someone using a mobile Åsa Torstensson should be partly to blame. this women is an idiot.
10:58 September 16, 2010 by WelshSwede
Should disallow two women in the front of the car, more dangerous than drinking or talking on the phone. Many times I have experienced this, swerving slightly and then driving between 10 - 20km/h below the speed limit and when approach a speed camera, slows down even further. Were already going too slow!!!!!!!!!!!

Seems more interested in their own conversation than whats going on in the world around them!
15:45 September 16, 2010 by flintis
Obviously Torstensson hasn't been knocked off a motorbike by a women talking on her mobile & reading a presentation whilst driving along the E18.

Absolutely scandalous that this women refuses, probably some stupid reason like ifringment of personal integrity
16:04 September 17, 2010 by The Baldchemist
You know, I loathe censure-ship and unnecessary laws. I loathe authority especially when doled out by those with delusions of grandeur, inferiority complexes, narcissism and paranoia, but I must add my bit here and say that it's not before time that mobile phone usage while driving should be banned. It ain't cool. I saw a guy kill two kids and injured five others because he was on the phone while driving. It ain't pretty!
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