There was a 56 per cent increase in the number of drivers in Mayo who were given penalty points for driving while using their mobile phones last year.
Figures released by the Road Safety Authority show that in 2008, 1,035 people were detected by gardaí for the offence, up from the 664 whom were caught in 2007. Nationally there was a 68 per cent increase in the numbers of people who got penalty points for the offence, with 75,040 people being caught in 2008, up from 44,624 in 2007.
Penalty points for driving with a mobile phone were first introduced in 2006 and it has now over taken travelling without a seat belt to become the second highest offence for motorists to receive penalty points, after speeding.
According to Noel Brett, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, drivers and other road-users should be aware of the dangers of using mobile phones when driving. “Research tells us that you are four times more likely to have a crash if you use a hand-held mobile phone when you are driving,” he said. “Using a mobile phone while driving distracts the driver, impairs their control of the vehicle and reduces their awareness of what is happening around them.”
To highlight the dangers of driving while using the mobile phone a 30 second radio ad will run on all national and local radio stations throughout September. Further information on the topic can be found in the RSA’s information leaflet Mobile Phones and Driving which can be downloaded from www.rsa.ie