The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána are once again appealing to drivers to not use their mobile phones while driving. The calls come following the publication of new research which shows almost a quarter of drivers (23%) admit to checking mobile phone notifications while driving.
The Driver Attitudes & Behaviour Survey 2021 found that 37% of motorists surveyed were not practicing safe mobile phone behaviour when driving, which includes turning off your mobile phone, switching it on silent, or keeping it out of sight.
International research has revealed that drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a collision if they use their mobile phone while driving. Despite this, the RSA survey also found that 19% of respondents use their phone to read messages/emails, while 13% write messages/emails from behind the wheel. In addition, 12% of motorists admitted to using their phones to check social media.
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Ms. Hildegarde Naughton said: “The evidence around the dangers of using your mobile phone while driving is very clear, with drivers four times more likely to have a collision when on their mobile. The new government Road Safety Strategy 2021 to 2030 has identified the need for a review of the penalties for road traffic offences, including mobile phone use while driving. Nobody can claim that they are not aware of the dangers of using a phone while driving. Therefore, if we are to achieve a 50% reduction in deaths and serious injuries by 2030, plus achieve Vision Zero by 2050, we need to seriously look at such measures to eliminate this dangerous behaviour”.
Mr Sam Waide, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: “Driver distraction is thought to play a role in up to 30% of all road collisions. Using your mobile is a significant form of driver distraction as it dangerously impairs your ability to monitor the road ahead and react to any hazards in time. That call, text, or social media post can wait until you are parked up safely, whatever you do don’t take a chance and use your phone while driving. If you know someone is driving, avoid phoning them until they have reached their destination or are safely parked up. Following the publication of the latest statistics, we are asking all motorists to follow safe behaviour when it comes to their mobile phone while driving and either turn it off, switch it to airplane mode, put it on silent or simply put it out of sight”.
Assistant Commissioner, Paula Hilman, Roads Policing and Community Engagement, An Garda Síochána said: “The penalty for using a mobile phone, which includes supporting it with any part of your body, while driving is an automatic three points on your licence and a sixty euro fine. If you accumulate 12 penalty points (7 for novice and learner drivers) in a three-year period, you will be disqualified from driving for 6 months. In 2021 a total of 22,310 notices were issued for ‘Driving a vehicle while holding a mobile phone’. When driving our attention should be focused on one thing only – driving safely and not on a mobile phone. As road-users, we have a responsibility to ourselves, our passengers, and other road-users to keep our attention on the road, so I would encourage all road-users to switch off before you drive off.”
To date in 2022, a total of 86 people have died on Irish roads, 27 more than the same period in 2021.
The government Road Safety Strategy 2021 to 2030 primary target is to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries by 50% by 2030. It is also the first step towards realising Vision Zero, whereby all deaths and serious injuries are eliminated by 2050.
For more information on mobile phone safety and the government Road Safety Strategy visit rsa.ie.