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Dublin: 16°C Tuesday 26 October 2021

Phones, children and even car mats are distracting drivers - making crashes more likely

Road Safety Week is highlighting the increase of deaths on our roads this year.

Image: distracted driver via Shutterstock

DRIVER DISTRACTION IS thought to play a role in 20 – 30% of all road crashes, according to recent publications by the Road Safety Authority.

It found that mobile phones make drivers four times more likely to crash.

However, children can be 12 times more likely to distract drivers with one study showing that an average parent takes their eyes off the road for three minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute trip.

So what are the big culprits when it comes to driver distraction? Mayo County Council have created a list of the top offenders – including car mats and footwear.

Car mats

If car mats are not secured properly they can become wedged under the foot pedals and make it difficult for the driver to use the brakes, accelerator and clutch.

Mayo County Council says that leaning down and trying to reposition the mats with your hands or pushing them out of the way with your feet while driving is, like texting, not a clever idea.

Secure them properly, or if they are well past their use-by-date, throw them away.

Seats and mirrors

If you’re sharing your car then make sure the seat position is how you want it before you start driving. Trying to adjust the seat while on the move can cause a loss of control.

Also check that the positions of the rear vision and side mirrors have not been altered since your last spell behind the wheel.

Snacks and music 

Mayo County Council says that trying to unravel a sandwich from its wrapper or take a hot pie out of its paper bag is a great way to lose concentration on the road.

It advises drivers to make sure the cup holders are free and are not being used to store loose change and/or keys, creating instability that can cause that hot coffee to spill.

It also advises road users to sort out music or directions before starting the drive.

Tune in the audio system, sort out your iPod/USB connection and set your destination before the trip begins. If you have to reset course or make changes once you are on the move, delegate the job to your passenger or pull over.

Rubbish and moving objects

Keep a small rubbish bag handy to dump any waste. It avoids the car floor being used as a dumping ground and creating a distraction if items such as bottles roll under the driver’s feet.

Also make sure anything in the car is secure and not likely to move around. If something has moved and is annoying you, pull over and sort it out.


Try to make sure that children don’t have to ask for something that is not within their reach while you’re driving. Turning around to find or pass on a favourite toy etc is a definite no-no.

Shoes shoes shoes

Taking off uncomfortable or potentially dangerous footwear before driving is a sensible thing to do, however, leaving the shoes to roll around can turn them into a hazard.

Noel Gibbons Road Safety Officer Mayo County Council, said, ”Staying safe on the road requires concentration, so it’s important to keep distractions to a minimum.

Keeping your eyes on the road and remaining focused on the driving task is something all drivers must do.

“Friends and family can also help by not distracting drivers – in the car, or on the phone.”

Read: Children are 12 times more distracting to a driver than a mobile phone>

Read: Number of children killed on Irish roads has already doubled from last year>

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