German judge questions hands-free driving law

German Judge Albert Bartz has taken issue with laws that ban drivers from talking on handsets while driving but do not address many other potentially more distracting activities, including sexual activity.  “The police have no legal basis for taking action against a driver who is, for example, letting their left hand dangle out of the ...

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LONDON - FEBRUARY 15: In car navigation and telephone dashboard mounted devices on February 15, 2005, London, England. A new survey has revealed that almost half of British motorists admit to being distracted by in car devices such as radios and telephones. (Photo Illustration by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

German Judge Albert Bartz has taken issue with laws that ban drivers from talking on handsets while driving but do not address many other potentially more distracting activities, including sexual activity. 

"The police have no legal basis for taking action against a driver who is, for example, letting their left hand dangle out of the open car window while they use their right hand to work on a laptop that's sitting on the passenger's seat and steer the car with their thighs," Bartz said. "In my opinion, the current legislation is outdated." 

German Judge Albert Bartz has taken issue with laws that ban drivers from talking on handsets while driving but do not address many other potentially more distracting activities, including sexual activity. 

“The police have no legal basis for taking action against a driver who is, for example, letting their left hand dangle out of the open car window while they use their right hand to work on a laptop that’s sitting on the passenger’s seat and steer the car with their thighs,” Bartz said. “In my opinion, the current legislation is outdated.” 

The judge considered the law while handling the case of a man who appealed his fine for talking while driving. Bartz insists however that he does not have personal motivation for his legal position. 

Bartz emphasized that he has never been caught using his mobile phone in the car and that he also avoids other risky activities while driving. As he told the mass circulation daily Bild: “Sex at the steering wheel is strictly off-limits for me.”

Bartz forwarded the statute on to Germany’s highest court, the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, for further review.  

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

<p> Michael Wilkerson, a journalist and former Fulbright researcher in Uganda, is a graduate student in politics at Oxford University, where he is a Marshall Scholar. </p>

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