Some 59 per cent of Irish motorists have looked at their phones while driving within the last year, according to new nationwide research carried out by iReach on behalf of Toyota Ireland.
The survey of 1,000 Irish drivers also revealed 42 per cent admitted the same offence within the last two months, while more than half of all adults (52 per cent ) check their phone in the car after hearing an alert.
The research revealed 26 per cent checked their phone when stopped at traffic lights, 21 per cent took a quick glance while driving when they felt it was safe to do so, and five per cent checked immediately, while 48 per cent waited until they reached home to check.
Specific phone activity when driving or stopped at traffic lights, included 21 per cent who read text messages, 18 per cent who made or answered calls, seven per cent who check voicemail, six per cent sent messages, four per cent checked social media, and three per cent read the news.
The survey findings come at a time when deaths on Irish roads have risen by nine, in comparison with the same time period last year.
As a result Toyota is renewing its appeal for Irish motorists to place their phones face down while driving, which is the the central message in the brand’s annual National FaceItDown Awareness Week, which runs this week.
The national awareness week campaign is calling for more widespread adoption of the life-saving FaceItDown app which was developed by Toyota Ireland to help change Irish driver behaviour. The app, which is endorsed by the Road Safety Authority, incentivises motorists to place their phone face down when driving in order to eradicate mobile phone distractions and ensure safer roads for all.
For every kilometre driven with the app engaged and phones faced down, users can earn points which are redeemable against free hot beverages in Circle K, cheaper FBD car insurance, and subsidised parking at QPark lots.
Since its launch in 2017, FaceItDown has recorded more than 28.9 million kilometres driven in Ireland with phones faced down. The free app is available to all motorists, whether they drive a Toyota or not, from Apple Store or Google Play. As an added incentive for current FaceItDown users, and to attract the next wave of safety conscious drivers, Toyota is offering double incentive points for all journeys logged on the app from September 9 to September 20.
Toyota Ireland CEO Steve Tormey, says despite knowing that people who use mobile phones while driving are four times more likely to crash than those who do not, the research findings clearly demonstrate the need for continued driver education and the important role that Toyota’s FaceItDown can play in making Irish roads safer for all.
“Toyota’s FaceItDown initiative is a prime example of our brand promise ‘Built for a Better World’ in action, and while we’re very proud of what it has achieved to date, we are appealing to all Irish motorists to make the app part of their daily driving routine, step up their vigilance, and keep their eyes on the road at all times.”
Toyota’s brand ambassador Niall Breslin is spearheading this year’s awareness week campaign.
“I spend a lot of time driving from Mullingar to Dublin, " he says, "and on a daily basis I see motorists with phone in hand doing 100kmph on the motorway. The research clearly shows people think it’s OK to use their phones when they think it’s safe, but even momentary driver distraction can result in death and disaster.
“What Toyota has done with FaceItDown is really clever and we want to encourage every driver in Ireland to download the free app. It takes a matter of seconds and they will be rewarded for their good driving behaviour and help make our roads safer for all."