Almost one in four drivers check mobile phone while driving - research finds

The RSA and the gardaí are appealing to drivers to not use their phones while on the road

14/03/2022 - NEWS - The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána have launched their St. Patrick’s Weekend Bank Holiday road safety appeal.  GV from the Garda checkpoint on the Chapelizod Road.  Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Almost a quarter of motorists admit to checking their mobile phone notifications while driving, new research from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) shows.

The RSA and the gardaí are appealing to drivers to not use their phones while on the road.

Some 37 per cent of motorists surveyed were not practicing safe mobile phone behaviour when driving, according to the Driver Attitudes & Behaviour Survey 2021.

The survey, which questioned 1,220 drivers in November 2021, found 19 per cent of respondents use their phones to read messages or emails while driving.

Some 13 per cent write messages and emails from behind the wheel, while 12 per cent admitted to using their phones to check social media.

This is despite international research revealing drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a collision if they use their mobile phone while driving.

To date in 2022, a total of 86 people have died on Irish roads, 27 more than during the same period in 2021.

A total of 22,310 notices were issued by gardaí last year for “driving a vehicle while holding a mobile phone”.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton said the evidence of the dangers of using your phone while driving are “very clear”.

“Nobody can claim that they are not aware of the dangers of using a phone while driving,” Ms Naughton said.

Sam Waide, chief executive of the RSA, said driver distraction is thought to play a role in up to 30 per cent 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,” Mr Waide said.

Assistant commissioner Paula Hilman for roads policing and community engagement at An Garda Síochána said the penalty for using a mobile phone, including supporting it with any part of your body while driving, is an automatic three points on your licence and a €60 fine.

“If you accumulate 12 penalty points (seven for novice and learner drivers) in a three-year period, you will be disqualified from driving for six months,” she said.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times