Driver distractions - mobile phones

IRL/GB

Dangers of mobile phone use while driving

We previously discussed the act of 'Rubbernecking' in another article which played a role in driver distractions and how we could combat this. An even bigger driver distraction that we all fall victim to is the use of our mobile phones. It is something that needs to be addressed. 

Nowadays we can't go anywhere without our mobile phones, they must be within arms reach at all times. These little devices demand more and more of our time with the ever-advancing technological aspects, we can do just about anything on them. So, of course, we are bound to be constantly attached to them.

This includes when we are driving our car. Having our mobile phone in the car while we are driving can be fatal and is becoming an increasing problem. 

It seems only right now that we have certain legislation on the use of mobile phones in accordance with these technological times. 

Irish law 

Under Irish law, it’s an offence, while driving, to hold your mobile phone in your hand, or support it with another part of the body. ‘Hold’ is the operative word because it makes no difference whether the person ‘holding’ the phone is talking, texting or browsing. The fines for this have changed and if you are caught doing this you must pay an €80 fine as well as 3 penalty points on your licence. 

To specifically address the increasing problem of texting while driving, Irish Law was tightened in 2014.  New road safety regulations stipulate a mandatory court summons and a fine rather than just penalty points, this would certainly deter people from using their phones? 

If you have to use your phone while driving, it is necessary that you have a hands free kit. However, even with this, you cannot send a text etc. regardless of the phone being in its hands-free kit. On top of this, you are not allowed to dial a number whilst driving unless you have a voice control system. So even though you may have a little more freedom you are still very restricted. One should be mindful of as you may still be prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving.

How does driving with a phone affect you as a driver? 

It was found that drivers were unable to carry out normal driving tasks that are essential for safe driving such as: 

  • Keep to their lanes

  • Drive at the correct speed, and at the speed, other drivers are anticipating

  • Keep a proper and safe distance from the car in front of them

  • Judge gaps in traffic properly

Shocking statistics 

We all hear the terrible things that can happen if we use our phones while driving, while none of us ever think it will ever happen to us. But in just one moment of taking your eyes off the road can have a detrimental effect. 

  • Driver distraction plays a role in 20-30% of all road collisions

  • The National Safety Council reports that mobile phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.

  • Nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.

  • Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.

  • If you make a call while you drive you are 4 times more likely to crash 

  • If you attempt to send a text while driving you are 23 more times as likely to crash 

  • 5000 drivers caught using their phone while driving in the first 2 months of 2019

  • There has been an increase of 24% of mobile phone use between 2018 and 2019 

  • Texting while driving causes a 400% increase in time spent with eyes off the road.

  • Of all mobile phone related tasks, texting is by far the most dangerous activity.

Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive of the RSA has said that the offence of holding a mobile phone while driving is the second-highest reason for a driver to receive penalty points, after speeding, and 81,199 penalty points notices for mobile phone usage were issued in the three-year period up to end of March 2019. 

Not only do we use our phones for the social aspect, but with the advances of google maps, we are relying on this more and more to get us where we need to go. But what we may not realise is that it is also illegal to use the map to navigate ourselves. This can be just as dangerous as attempting to send a text message. 

If you need to use your phone you must pull over to a safe location before doing so. It will save lives. 

IRL/GB