Up to 1,368 drivers in County Mayo have been issued with fixed charge notices for penalty point offences for using a hand held mobile phone while driving up to the end of March this year.
Ahead of the May Bank Holiday weekend 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.
According to the RSA 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 to 30 per cent of all road collisions. Using a mobile phone can increase the risk of being in a road collision by up to four times. The RSA Mobile Phones and Driving advertising campaign will run on television and radio stations nationwide from Monday May 9, and in cinemas from Friday May 13.
Dr Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport, has lent his support to the campaign. “This May Bank Holiday I am asking each and every driver to switch off their mobile phone before driving; don’t put your own life and the lives of other people at risk just to take a call or answer a text message,” he said. “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 to 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 are using 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.