There has been a 24% Increase in number of motorists detected holding a mobile phone while driving.

Over 80,000 penalty points notices for mobile phone usage issued to date

An Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) are urging drivers this Easter weekend to put their mobile phones away while driving so they can focus all their attention on the road.

In the first two months of 2019, almost 5,000 drivers were detected by the Gardai holding their mobile phone while driving, an increase of 24% in detections compared to the same period in 2018.

Assistant Commissioner David Sheahan, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, An Garda Síochána, said: “Any interaction with a mobile phone while driving is a killer behaviour that affects your ability to drive safely and puts the user and others at risk. It’s for this reason that An Garda Síochána continue to target this behaviour and alarmingly we have seen a 24% increase in drivers detected holding a mobile phone in 2019 vs 2018. Motorists detected holding a mobile phone risk a fixed charge notice of €60 and three penalty points.

"If you are a fully licensed driver and get 12 penalty points in a three year period you will be disqualified from driving for six months. However, if you are a learner permit holder or novice driver and receive seven points in a three year period you will face a six months disqualification. We are calling on all motorists to save lives and keep their hands on the wheel and off the phone while driving.”

Mr. Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport said: “A 24% increase in detections for holding a mobile while driving is shocking but clearly, the Gardaí are working hard to stamp out the practice, and it should serve as a warning to those people who refuse to listen. Evidence shows that driver distraction is one of the major risk factors in causing road traffic collisions. When you use your mobile phone behind the wheel, taking your mind and eyes off the road for just a split second can destroy everything forever. The message is put the phone away while driving and take extra care over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.”

Mobile phones potentially distract a driver in several ways*:

• Physically: instead of focusing on the physical tasks required by driving (e.g. steering or gear changing), drivers have to use one or both of their hands to manipulate the phone.

• Visually: mobile phones could visually distract drivers in two ways:

• Firstly, drivers have to move their eyes from the road and focus on the mobile phone in order to be able to use it.

• Secondly, while talking on a mobile phone, even if drivers’ eyes are focused on the road, they 'look but do not see'.

• Auditory: the focus of drivers' attention moves from the road environment to the sounds of the mobile phone and the conversation. This particularly applies when the sound quality is poor.

• Cognitively: instead of focusing their attention and thoughts on driving, drivers divert their attention and focus on the topic of the phone conversation

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