The Road Safety Authority (RSA ) is warning motorists that using a mobile phone while driving is one of the most dangerous things they can do in a car.
There is strong evidence that mobile phone use by drivers, either hand held or hands free, is a major contributory factor in increasing distraction that can lead to an increased risk of collisions.
Driver distraction is thought to play a role in 20 - 30 per cent of all road collisions. Using a mobile phone can increase the risk of being in a road collision up to four times.
The RSA Mobile Phones and Driving advertising campaign is running on television and radio stations nationwide, and in cinemas from Friday.
Speaking at the launch, Rose of Tralee Clare Kambamettu, said: “As Rose of Tralee, I have spent the last number of months driving to events all over Ireland. Talking or texting on your mobile phone while driving is incredibly dangerous. It’s not worth risking your life and the lives of others so please make sure to switch off before you drive.”
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar said: “Don’t put your own life and the lives of other people at risk just to take a call or answer a text message. It’s irresponsible and it’s not worth the risk.”
Increased availability of technologies for use in vehicles has caused safety problems relating to driver distraction to escalate. RSA research has shown that the vast majority of drivers (39-45 per cent ) report using their mobile phones at least sometimes while driving, and it is estimated that at any given moment during the day, two to six per cent of drivers use a mobile phone.
There are two types of distraction associated with mobile phone use in a car: physical and cognitive. Instead of focusing on the physical and visual tasks required by driving (eg steering, changing gears, looking at the road ), drivers are focused on manipulating the phone and/or paying attention to what is on the screen. In addition, the driver’s attention moves away from the road environment to the sounds and topic of the phone conversation.