Police NRW/University OWL
Police warn of the dangers of distracted driving
Don't distract yourself - no cell phone at the wheel.
Police NRW

Traffic experts warn that distraction at the wheel is an ever-increasing risk of accidents. Recent studies also show that 55% of all drivers regularly use their smartphone at the wheel. Among 18 to 29-year-olds, the figure is an alarming 85%. On average, one in six drivers writes a text message while driving - younger drivers even more frequently. Psychologists speak of addiction-like behavior due to the pressure of constant accessibility and the desire for digital participation.

In 2019, the NRW police punished a total of 155,932 cell phone violations. Traffic experts estimate that distraction is the cause of one in ten road accidents with injuries. The number of unreported cases is probably much higher. After such a traffic accident, nobody says: I didn't see the cyclist, I was just on Facebook. In view of the increased risk of up to 50-fold due to the distraction of smartphones, which has been proven by scientific studies, distraction is undisputed among experts as one of the main causes of accidents in NRW.


Increased fines and consistent prosecution by the police

The fine for using electronic devices as the driver of a motor vehicle is 100 euros and one point on the driving aptitude register. In the event of additional endangerment, a one-month driving ban is added. Violations of Section 23 (1a) StVO are classified as serious violations when driving a motor vehicle, which can lead to participation in an advanced training seminar, extension of the probationary period and withdrawal of the driver's license (Annex 12 of the German Driver's License Ordinance (FeV), probationary period). The warning fine for cyclists is 55 euros. Any infringements found will be reported to the police. Repeated violations can result in even higher fines, driving bans and, for the unteachable, the withdrawal of the driver's license.

By consistently prosecuting violations, the police clearly show that they do not accept dangerous behavior. Nevertheless, the dark field is considerable, as anyone with open eyes in traffic can see. This also applies to traffic accidents. When vehicles on a straight stretch of road suddenly run into oncoming traffic, veer off the road or hit the end of a traffic jam without braking, the question of the driver's attentiveness arises. What happened on board in the last few seconds before the collision? Was their hand on their smartphone, their eyes on the display? To clarify these questions, the police seize devices in these cases and evaluate them.


How does the new Section 23 (1a) of the Road Traffic Regulations affect road users?

Section 23 (1a) of the Road Traffic Regulations (StVO) has been in force since October 19, 2017. The regulation currently applies to all electronic devices that are used or intended to be used for communication, information or organization. Even before the amendment in 2017, case law tended to interpret the term "use" broadly, so that it can also be assumed in future that any use of any smartphone function is sufficient to meet the requirements for use. In any case, an offense is committed if the device is picked up or held for use.

New rules at a glance:


  • Mobile/car phones have been extended to include electronic devices for communication, information or organization, for example:
    • Smartphones,
    • Tablets,
    • Laptops,
    • Notebooks,
    • Smartwatches.
  • Picking up/holding for use is prohibited without exception.

Use with "automatic start-stop" or an electric motor in idle mode is also not permitted.

Be smarter than your phone

If you check WhatsApp messages for just two seconds at 50 km/h, you won't see what's happening in front of you for 30 meters. If you spend two seconds reading the latest Instagram stories on the saddle of your bike, you've quickly covered 10 meters in tunnel vision. You miss out on whether the car in front brakes, the traffic lights turn red or a child suddenly runs into the road.

Online once - offline forever More can happen in a second than you think! A quick glance at your cell phone is life-threatening. To draw attention to the dangers of distraction, the police in Lippe and Paderborn have produced three urgent videos together with students from the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences. No WhatsApp message, no phone call is worth a human life.



Distraction by Messengers

0:58 min Police NRW/University OWL

Distraction music

1:06 min Police NRW/University OWL

Distraction navigation device

1:08 min Police NRW/University OWL
Translated with DeepL.com (API Version)
In urgent cases: Police emergency number 110