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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 3°C
Road Safety

Almost one in four motorists check their phone notifications while driving

New research by the Road Safety Authority also found that 13% of drivers write messages or emails while behind the wheel.

ALMOST A QUARTER of drivers admit to checking their mobile phone notifications while driving, according to new research by the Road Safety Authority (RSA). 

The RSA and the gardaí are appealing to road users to not use their mobile phones while driving following the publication of the research.

According to the Driver Attitudes & Behaviour Survey 2021, 23% of drivers admit to checking the notifications on their phone while at the wheel.

37% of drivers surveyed were not practicing safe mobile phone behaviour when driving, which includes turning off their mobile phone, switching it on silent, or keeping it out of sight.

The survey also found that 19% of respondents use their phone to read messages or emails, 13% write messages or emails from behind the wheel and 12% check social media.

9% of respondents also admitted to using their mobile phone at least sometimes while driving to respond to social media posts, while 7% said they use their mobile phone at least sometimes while driving to take photos or videos to share on social media.

Before setting off to drive, 45% of respondents said they keep their mobile phone out of sight, while 17% said they regularly switch their phone to silent. 6% said they regularly turn off their mobile phone. 

63% said they regularly practice at least one of these safe behaviours, but 37% do not regularly practice any of these safe behaviours.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton said the Government need to “seriously look” at measures to eliminate “dangerous behaviour”.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Driver distraction

RSA chief executive Sam Waide said that 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,” he said.

“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.” 

Garda Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman, of the Roads Policing and Community Engagement, added that 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 €60 fine.

“In 2021, a total of 22,310 notices were issued for ‘Driving a vehicle while holding a mobile phone’,” she said.

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.”

A total of 86 people have died on Irish roads to date this year, 27 more than the same period in 2021.

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