Belgian driving test requires texting-while-driving proficiency

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An artist's illustration that depicts a close-up on a pair of hands texting, while behind the wheel of a car. The text in the illustration warns of danger.

Texting while driving is required on one Belgian driving test. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Romy llano/Wikipedia)

Distracted driving is a problem that plagues U.S. roadways, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Whenever cell phone use by a driver occurs while the vehicle is in motion, the potential for an accident increases. Yet mobile devices won’t go away. This is why the Belgian non-profit organization Responsible Young Drivers came up with a rather innovative idea. The group offers a live driving test to youth that includes measuring ability “to use a mobile phone while driving” while avoiding obstacles. No one has passed the test yet.

Texting while driving is a hit with the cones

As the video compilation below by Responsible Young Drivers shows, young drivers are ordered by the driving test administrator to text specific messages. Students are not judged on spelling and grammar but on whether they can make it through the pre-designed obstacle course.

It quickly becomes obvious that texting while driving is a recipe for disaster. Students hit cones, the instructor is thrown about and turns are dodgy at best. One commentator notes that if texting while driving is ever made legal, he’d stay far away from the roadway. Apparently Belgium is more progressive than the U.S., as numerous states are still having trouble passing safety regulations, such is the red tape between the NHTSA and the Federal Communications Commission.

What Responsible Young Drivers is about

Responsible Young Drivers promotes roadway safety, challenging young drivers to demonstrate responsible driving in a number of ways. According to the organization’s website, it employs the aid of 600 youthful volunteers to organize more than 250 driving safety promotions each year in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Topics of these activities range from preventing drunk and drug-impaired driving by calling for the use of sobriety tests in nightclubs, and illustrating to sober young drivers via selective first-hand handicaps what it’s like to drive distracted and impaired.

Promotions involving seatbelt and airbag use are also common. Drivers see what a crash test is actually like, as well as the experience of being inside a somersaulting vehicle. They’re also taught how stopping distances are increased when they’re impaired and reaction time is slower. As for the non-impairment portion of Responsible Young Drivers’ programs, roadway courtesy is taught and encouraged.

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Virtual training helps, too

With a proprietary three-dimensional driving simulator, a student can get behind the wheel of a well-known local vehicle, like a Renault Logan. Then the student is run through training exercises involving myriad traffic conditions that require attention, safety and courtesy to navigate successfully. Responsible Young Drivers notes that this tool is of particular importance when it comes to teaching young drivers the proper time to apply the brakes.

The texting-and-driving test


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Responsible Young Drivers (English)

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