Talking on the telephone whilst driving increases the driver’s average reaction time by half, and even more than that if he/she is sending a text message.
Icelandic drivers caught red handed with their phones to their ears often use the excuse that they were answering a call from somebody else. But as Reykjavík police traffic manager Árni Friðleifsson says: “There isn’t a law in the land which obliges people to pick up the phone when it rings.”
The RÚV TV program Kastljós accompanied the police on a phone monitoring trip in an unmarked car.
In just one hour during evening rush hour last Friday, five people were stopped for talking on their phone whilst driving.
As most people know, it is against the law to talk on the phone without a hands-free-kit whilst at the wheel and those caught are fined ISK 5,000 (EUR 33.50/USD 37.60).
The police have fined around 500 people a year for the past five years—but the number is rising.
Árni says people are not only chatting on their phones. They are also caught checking their email, going on Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, among others. Police have noticed a recent increase in the number of rear end shunts, almost certainly caused by people distracted by their phones.