Almost one in four drivers (23 per cent) admit to checking mobile phone notifications while driving, according to the Road Safety Authority (RSA).
The RSA and gardaí are appealing to drivers not to use their phones after new research found 37 per cent of motorists are not practising safe behaviour including turning off their phone, switching it on silent mode or keeping it out of sight when driving.
The RSA’s Driver Attitudes & Behaviour Survey 2021 also found that 19 per cent of drivers use their phone to read messages or emails, 13 per cent write messages or emails from behind the wheel and 12 per cent check social media.
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, said the Government needs to “seriously look” at measures to eliminate this “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.”
Chief executive of the RSA, Sam Waide, warned that driver distraction is thought to play a role in up to 30 per cent 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 Roads Policing and Community Engagement, added that the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving, which includes supporting it with any part of your body, 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.
“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.”
To date this year, a total of 86 people have died on Irish roads, 27 more than the same period in 2021.