In Italian driving school I learned that phone use while driving carries some of the stiffest penalties.

Until now that has included fines up to €161- 467 and a hefty point deduction from one’s license. But has that curbed rampant cellphone use by Italian drivers? Nope, nope, nope.

I became aware of this news this morning. The upcoming change in the law won’t, to my liking, be voted on and implemented until next May. Just yesterday, as I was on my Vespa, I watched a man speeding through a roundabout, one hand leisurely on the wheel, and the other holding his cell phone. And, my friends, this is a common siting. Over time, I’ve concluded that Italian drivers, for the most part, have decided to ignore the current laws.

“Italy has one of the highest numbers of annual road traffic deaths in western Europe, at 55 deaths per million inhabitants in 2017”


And, mobile phone use is one of the biggest factors in accidents. I hope that, indeed, Italy cracks down on phone use, and that we’ll see the numbers of accidents and fatalities dropping.

So, what’s in the law and how much of a change can we expect? Fines quadrupling to almost €1700 PLUS a one-to-two-week license suspension. Repeat offenders? Up to €2588 in fines and a three-month license suspension,

As Italy Cracks Down on Phone Use, will the new laws be enough?

I’m not so sure. We’re talking about breaking a large-scale addiction to phone use while driving. And addicts are willing to take risks. So, for me, it’s a big wait-and-see. The biggest question mark, in my opinion, is how strictly the new law will be monitored and enforced. I’ve witnessed cavalier drivers using their cell phones and cruising past police with no resulting reaction. That’s not very encouraging.

Driving in Italy already can be quite unpredictable.

Which means hyper-attentiveness is key. As a past offender of phone use while driving, I’ve moderated my behavior to engage hands-free with the phone in the seat next to me. But even that can result in a momentary attention lapse. Most of the time I wait until I can pull over and make or return a call. As Italy cracks down on phone use while driving, I’m taking this as a signal to do only the latter, not the former.