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Noel Brett made the comments at an Oireachtas meeting yesterday.
Road Safety

Road safety chief wants automatic checks of crash drivers' phone records

Noel Brett of the Road Safety Authority says it should be routine practice for drivers in crashes to have their records checked.

THE HEAD of the Road Safety Authority has suggested that Gardaí should have the power to check the mobile phones of drivers involved in road accidents, so that they can ascertain whether the use of phones was a contributing factor to their accident.

Noel Brett told the Oireachtas transport committee that allowing Gardaí to check phones, or to access phone records after an accident, could help to crack down on the illegal use of phones while motorists or driving.

“It’s notoriously difficult thing to detect,” Brett told TDs.

“I also think there’s a requirement to change legislation so that in any fatal collision, and in any serious injury collision, it should be normal investigate practice that both drivers’ mobile phone records are sought,” he said, adding that the current legislation governing such records was dated.

Where a citizen has been killed on our roads, or a citizen has had a life-altering injury, I think it’s proportionate that both drivers’ mobile phone records be routinely be requested, checked, and if there was mobile phone use at the time of the collision, that would be a significant part in the prosecution.

If this were the case, Brett said, “we would see a marked change in what is perhaps now the most dangerous behaviour on the road”.

Brett said observing other drivers using mobile phones “irritates us all, because we’re sharing the road with someone who’s not sharing the road fairly.”

Brett also called for changes to the current legal system so that people guilty of motoring offences did not need to appear in court to formally receive their fines.

The current regime, which required Gardaí to also be present in court to offer evidence of an alleged breach, distracted Gardaí from enforcement duties.

“If any motorist wants a day in court, they should have that right,” Brett added, but continued that “we need every available enforcement out there on the road”.

This would avoid the need for a court hearing for ”the person who put their [tax renewal] notice behind the clock and forgot to pay it,” he said.

The recent development of a new mobile traffic camera system had helped in this regard, he said, as it freed up 6,000 hours of Garda time per year which could be spent on enforcing other traffic laws.

Read: ‘Room for improvement’ in penalty point system

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