World News

Phone-hooked drivers face licence suspension in France

PARIS (Reuters) - Drivers caught swapping texts or chatting on their phones at the wheel risk having their licences suspended under new road safety rules in France, where the government is under pressure to halt a rise in road deaths.

The crackdown, defended on the grounds that drivers are four times more likely to crash if toying with hand-held devices, was one of several measures announced by the government on Tuesday, along with a lowering of speed limits.

The rise in smartphone use is fuelling concern that digital dabbling will become as deadly as drunk-driving, especially if the punished only by fines.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government is under pressure to combat resurgent road accident numbers. The number of road accident deaths has been on the rise since 2014, with most accidents still attributed to excess speed, use of alcohol and drug-consumption.

In Europe, bans on hand-held device usage are widespread but offences are generally limited to fines that vary from less than 50 euros in Ireland to several hundred in the Netherlands.

Reporting by Brian Love; Editing by Angus MacSwan