Digital Desk Staff
Most drivers “never” use their phone handheld while driving, but half think that phone use by others is getting worse.
Those are the findings of a recent survey of 2,617 motorists by AA Ireland. Around half of motorists (48.2 per cent) said the overall problem of phone use while driving has become worse in the last two years. Fewer than one in five think it has got better.
Four in every five motorists (79 per cent) said they see other drivers using their phones for handheld calls or texts “often” or “occasionally”. Only 5 per cent said they have not seen another driver on the phone in the last year.
However, only two in five say they have used their phones themselves while driving to make a handheld call, send or read a message, or check a notification. Most of these say they do this “rarely”.
Only 1.6 per cent of respondents admit to doing this “often”, while 59.7 per cent say they “never” do so.
It's a slightly different picture when stopped in traffic or a red light, but again very few say this a regular occurrence for them. Three in five motorists say they have done so, but mostly “rarely”.
Just 4.5 per cent say they “often” make a handheld call, send a message, or check a notification when stopped, 42.1 per cent say they “never” do.
It is illegal in Ireland to hold a phone while driving, including having it cradled between your neck and shoulder. Holding a phone can result in a fixed charge penalty notice of €60 and three-penalty-points on your driving licence. It's also against the law to open, send or read a message on a phone while driving, even if it's on a dashboard mount.
Last year, gardaí issued 24,474 fixed charged penalty notices for mobile phone use. Distracted driving can also lead to charges of driving without due care and attention, careless driving and dangerous driving.
The majority of those surveyed (61.5 per cent) said they want to see stronger penalties for phone use while driving.
AA Ireland head of communications, Paddy Comyn, said: “This survey shows that most motorists feel that phone use is unacceptable. Most say they never use their own phone for handheld activities while driving, but they feel others do so regularly and think penalties should be more strict.”
Mr Comyn added: “While looking at a notification might feel quick, when driving at 120km/h on the motorway, a vehicle travels around the length of a soccer pitch every 3.5 seconds. In the 5 seconds it takes to manually dial a number, you could drive the length of a soccer pitch and a half without looking. Doing the same thing at 50km/h, a motorist would drive the length of 5 double-decker buses with their eyes off the road.”
Also in this survey, over one in four drivers say they have opened or changed a music app on their phone while driving in the past year. But, on the other hand, 70 percent say they “never” do this.
Over 95 per cent of drivers surveyed said they “never” take photos while driving.