Driving and using a mobile phone is becoming increasingly risky in Spain, at least in terms of its legal implications in the case of an accident.
From now on, police will be able to carry out checks on the mobile phones of drivers involved in crashes in order to determine whether they were using the device at the time of the crash, and whether it could have had an influence in causing the incident.
This will include all forms of mobile communication, including texts, calls or voice messages on WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, Twitter or any other social platform.
Spain’s top road safety prosecutor Bartolomé Vargas sent out an order to all regional traffic authorities on April 12th, calling on road safety officers to begin implementing the measure from now on.
However, on-the-spot checks will not be allowed, searches will only be possible through a court order.
According to Spain’s traffic authority the DGT, using a phone while driving increases the chance of being involved in an accident by 20 percent and reduces a driver’s perception of road signs by up to 40 percent.
Phone companies will be now be obliged by law to provide all the relevant digital information to a court if requested, so there is little point for drivers involved in an a road accident to delete any potential proof of wrongdoing off their devices.
According to Spanish traffic sources, the mobile phone checks will only be carried out in cases where the cause of the road accident is unclear, although it doesn’t have to be a serious crash for a court to request the information.
If the driver was found to be using their phone at the time of the crash, it will not be deemed by judges to be the only reason for the incident, but rather added to the list of conditioning factors.
Using a mobile phone while driving in Spain is currently punishable with three points docked off drivers’ licenses and a €200 fine.
Spain’s road authorities are now looking to wage war on mobile apps that warn drivers about speed cameras, police roadblocks and alcohol/drugs checks, their hope being that legislation is passed which makes these mobile services illegal.