The news has been abuzz this week in Denmark with the revelation that 30,000 fines were handed out in this country in 2009 for the offence of talking or texting on a mobile phone.
It's a rise of about 8000 compared to the 2008. Whether or not Danes are doing it more or the police are more actively seeking out offenders remains to be clear.
What suprised me was learning that the fine is a mere 500 kroner [$100]. That's it. That's five hours of work at the Danish minimum wage or an evening out for two at an average restaurant and a visit to the cinema. Actually, I've also learned that the fine for venturing out on the iced over lakes before it's 'safe' comes with a 500 kroner fine.
That's it. Hardly much of a deterrent.
Naturally, in light of of the press coverage the politicians are hemming and hawing and promising to 'look into it'.
In Denmark we have a kind of 'three strikes and you're out' system for traffic offences. More serious offences like speeding over certain limits gives you a 'clip' in your driving licence. Three of those and you lose it.
Why isn't using the mobile phone whilst driving included in the list of offences that result in a clip in the driving licence? Indeed, many people are mentioning now that the 30,000 number is out.
If you're motoring about inside a steel and glass box weighing in at a couple of tonnes, surely you should risk a higher penalty. Especially in light of all the studies popping up about the dangers of using mobiles.