Sending or reading mobile phone texts has been identified as the most common dangerously distracting activity for drivers on Ireland’s roads.
In a survey of Irish drivers carried out by Continental Tyres, mobile phone texting was cited by just over 10 per cent of drivers as the number one activity that has caused the most ‘near misses’ on the road.
Other distracting activities that almost caused an accident were changing/searching for music (eight per cent) and taking or making a phone call (seven per cent). Interestingly, as the smartphone becomes more and more popular, just over five per cent of drivers highlighted checking email or the internet as a reason for a near miss in the past.
The search for the right music was highlighted as the most common distracting activity by respondents – 73 per cent said this was the most regular distracting activity they engaged in while behind the wheel. This was followed by mobile phone use – calling and/or texting (65 per cent), and eating/ rinking (44 per cent).
Women were identified as more likely to be distracted by using the mobile phone – nearly 48 per cent of women said phone usage was their main distracting activity behind the wheel (33 per cent of men). For men, eating/drinking and searching for music were the joint most distracting activities. However, twice as many women cited smoking/lighting cigarettes as a regular distraction (14 per cent versus seven per cent for men).
Tom Dennigan from Continental Tyres Ireland said: “As a driver, paying attention to your surroundings is vital to ensure both your safety and the safety of other road users. In spite of all the safety campaigns targeting the dangers of mobile phone usage while driving, it was shocking to see it highlighted as the main reason for a ‘near miss’ by so many drivers. We would reiterate the Road Safety Authority message to drivers, it won’t hurt you to put away the phone while you are behind the wheel, but using it just might”.
In response to the question in relation to distractions from passengers or other road users, cyclists were found to be the biggest distraction for drivers (60 per cent), followed by children in the car (37 per cent) and pedestrians (nearly 40 per cent). Other motorists were highlighted by one in four of respondents as key sources of distraction.