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Texting behind the wheel 'harmless': agency

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Texting behind the wheel 'harmless': agency
09:01 CEST+02:00
There is no reason to ban texting and talking on mobile phones without hands-free while driving, according to a report from the Swedish National Road and Transport Institute (Statens väg- och transportforskningsinstitut - VTI), handed to the government on Wednesday.

“We've seen that it doesn't help to have such a law while driving. This is partly because we've seen that people wouldn't adhere to the law, and partly because we've seen no effect on crash risks,” said Katja Kircher of VTI to Sveriges Radio (SR).

VTI hopes instead that emerging technology in mobiles will increase traffic safety, according to the TT news agency.

The Local reported in June 2010 that a survey from insurance firm Trygg Hansa indicated that almost every second Swede has read or written a mobile phone text while driving.

The survey prompted the then infrastructure minister Åsa Torstensson to issue a statement saying that a ban was not the solution:

“For it to be effective you would need a total ban, as it is the calls themselves and their content that distracts the driver. Hands-free doesn't help and I can't see a total ban being passed,” she said at the time.

The news comes despite a recent push by the Riksdagen to ban texting and talking without handsfree, a move which was supported by Susanne Lekengård of motoring organisation Motormännen.

“Sweden is usually a pioneering country when it comes to road safety. Texting while driving is usually compared to drunk driving, due to the level of concentration required," Lekengård told The Local at the time.

Sweden remains on an increasingly thinning list of European countries allowing mobile phone use while driving, without using hands-free. The others on the list being Albania, Serbia, Moldova and Malta.

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