One in 10 motorists admit to texting while driving

Survey finds 9% admit to talking on phone and checking apps while behind the wheel

The RSA’s survey findings were published ahead of the upcoming May bank holiday weekend: ‘We are asking motorists to get into the habit of putting your phone away before setting off on a journey.’ Photograph: iStock

The RSA’s survey findings were published ahead of the upcoming May bank holiday weekend: ‘We are asking motorists to get into the habit of putting your phone away before setting off on a journey.’ Photograph: iStock

 

One in 10 motorists admit that they regularly text on their mobile phone while driving, according to a new survey from the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

The survey found 9 per cent of motorists also admitted to talking on their handheld mobile phone while driving, or to regularly checking phone apps.

The figures were taken from an online survey of 1,241 motorists, conducted in December 2020.

The survey findings were published ahead of the upcoming May bank holiday weekend, with the RSA and An Garda Síochána warning motorists over dangerous behaviour.

So far 40 people have been killed in collisions on Irish roads this year, 13 less than the same period last year.

RSA chief executive Sam Waide said taking a phone call, sending a text or checking apps while driving could result in “catastrophic” consequences.

“If you take your eyes off the road for just one second, a car moving at 50 km/h will travel 14 metres – that’s approximately four car lengths. That is 14 metres where a driver is not paying attention to the road,” he said.

“With the bank holiday approaching, we are asking motorists to get into the habit of putting your phone away before setting off on a journey – either turn your mobile phone off, switch it to aeroplane mode, put it on silent or simply put it out of sight,” he said.

‘Putting others at risk’

In the last five years, eight people were killed and 58 seriously injured in road crashes over the May bank holiday weekend.

Garda inspector Ian O’Callaghan, of the Cork West divisional roads policing unit, warned motorists using their phones that they were putting others on the road at risk.

There were 24,474 fixed-charge notices issued to drivers for using a mobile phone while driving by gardaí last year, he said.

“If you are detected driving with a phone in your hand, or cradled in the crook of your neck, you face a fixed-charged notice of €60 and three penalty points on your driving licence,” he said.

Minister of State for road transport Hildegarde Naughton said despite warnings and the threat of penalty points, some drivers were “still refusing to heed the message” over mobile phone use.

International research showed drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a crash if they are using their mobile phone behind the wheel, she said.