Almost 80 per cent of motorists witness someone using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving at least once a day. That’s according to the survey of over 16,000 people. Despite this figure, less than 17 per cent of motorists admitted to using their phone while driving. In fact 39 per cent say they never do.
“Irish drivers really do seem to be phone-addicts. Sadly it is not just phone calls. These days people use smartphones send texts, to check email and even surf the web while in traffic. Although we all know that it is absolutely reckless it is far too common for drivers to fiddle with their devices not just while stuck in traffic but while driving at speed,” says their Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan.
With this in mind motorists should be reminded of the dangers of using your phone while driving. “You’re four times more likely to crash your car if you’re on the phone” says Faughnan. “There is enough research on this now to put the issue beyond doubt. It’s impossible to stay completely focussed on the road if you’re calling or texting someone. It’s plain stupid to put your own and other road-users lives at risk in this way.”
The survey, which was conducted in July, also found that men and women are equally as dim-witted, when it comes to using the phone while driving. 16.7% of men and 16.5% of women said that it is common for them to do this. The fact is, if you drive and use a mobile phone, it’s harder for you to drive at the correct speed, keep in lane, keep an appropriate distance from the vehicle in front or judge safe gaps in traffic.
Despite being dangerous, driving with a mobile phone in your hand or supported by a part of your body is illegal. If you’re caught by the Gardaí you will be given 2 penalty points and you have 28 days to pay a fine of €60, after which you will have to pay €90. It is only legal to use a mobile phone whilst driving if it’s an emergency.
“It’s easy enough to get distracted while you’re behind the wheel, with the radio on or children in the car, without the added disturbance of your phone” says Faughnan. “The best way to avoid being distracted is to turn off your phone altogether but if you do need to leave it on, at least use a hands-free kit.”
Hands-free kits and using other cars
A lot of motorists have hands-free kits and modern cars will normally connect to a phone via bluetooth. However, more people are also regularly using other people’s cars to get around. Some parents for example, might use one car to get to work Monday to Friday and a different car to transport the children around at the weekend. With this in mind, The AA is advising motorists to take care if using cars that they don’t usually drive. Drivers may get used to being able to answer their phone in the car and in a different car, without their own hands-free kit, this action is illegal. If you do simply jump into someone else’s car it would be reassuring to know you’re covered. Instead of having to insure yourself on two cars, it’s worth knowing that some insurance companies offer fully comprehensive car insurance to drive other cars.