One in ten drivers admits they still text while driving.
With 66 people killed or seriously injured in May bank holiday crashes over the last five years, Gardaí are appealing to motorists to drop the phone and focus on the road this weekend.
International research has found that you are four times more likely to crash if using a handheld phone while driving. Texting, using social media, or messaging increases the risk substantially. In fact, drivers spend up to 400% more time with their eyes off the road when text messaging than when not texting messaging.
“Any interaction with a mobile phone while driving is dangerous behaviour that affects your ability to drive safely and puts the user and others at risk,” said Inspector Ian O’Callaghan, Cork West Divisional Roads Policing Unit.
€60 fine for having a phone in your hand while driving
Last year, An Garda Síochána issued 24,474 Fixed Charged Notices to drivers for using a mobile phone while driving. 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.
“If you accumulate 12 penalty points (seven for novice and learner drivers) you will be disqualified from driving for six months,” added Inspector O’Callaghan.
“If you choose not to pay the fixed charge and are then subsequently convicted in court, you’ll face five penalty points and a fine of up to €2,000. The message here is simple – when you’re behind the wheel of a car, your only focus should be your driving, and certainly not your mobile phone.”
The Driver Attitudes & Behaviour Survey 2020 also revealed that 9% of motorists admit to driving and talking on a handheld mobile phone and 9% of motorists regularly check mobile apps while behind the wheel.
“If you take your eyes off the road for just one second, a car moving at 50km/h will travel 14 metres – that’s approximately four car lengths,” said Sam Waide, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority.
“That is 14 metres where a driver is not paying attention to the road.”