The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána are urging drivers, ahead of the Easter weekend, to put their mobile phones away while driving so they can focus all their attention on the road.
In the first two months of 2019, almost 5,000 drivers were detected by the Gardaí holding their mobile phone while driving, an increase of 24 per cent in detections compared to the same period in 2018.
Mr. Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport said: “When you use your mobile phone behind the wheel, taking your mind and eyes off the road for just a split second can destroy everything forever. The message is put the phone away while driving and take extra care over the coming Easter Bank Holiday weekend.”
Ms Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive of the RSA, expressed concern at the numbers of people who continue to use their mobile phone when driving: “Using your mobile phone when driving makes you four times more likely to crash. Despite this, rational, intelligent people continue to text, make phone calls and check into their social media accounts.
“The offence of holding a mobile phone while driving is the second highest reason for a driver to receive penalty points, after speeding, and 81,199 penalty points notices for mobile phone usage were issued in the three-year period up to end of March 2019. Taking a call, sending a text or browsing while driving could kill you or some other innocent road user, putting the phone away won’t. Nothing is that urgent that it cannot wait until you are safely parked up.”
Assistant Commissioner David Sheahan, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, An Garda Síochána, said: “Motorists detected holding a mobile phone risk a fixed charge notice of €60 and three penalty points. If you are a fully licensed driver and get 12 penalty points in a three year period you will be disqualified from driving for six months. However, if you are a learner permit holder or novice driver and receive seven points in a three year period you will face a six months disqualification. We are calling on all motorists to save lives and keep their hands on the wheel and off the phone while driving.”
Toyota Ireland, in partnership with the RSA, have developed a free ‘Face It Down’ app for iPhone and Android which is designed to save lives on Irish Roads. This app rewards all drivers for putting their mobile phone face down when driving, allowing them to redeem the points for a complimentary hot drinks and other incentives.
A total of eight people have been killed and 63 seriously injured in Easter Bank Holiday crashes over the last five years. Two people were killed and 14 seriously injured over the 2018 Easter Bank Holiday.
The RSA and Applegreen have teamed up again to combat the effects of driver fatigue over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend by providing free cups of coffee to drivers between 14:00-20:00 on Good Friday, April 19 and Monday, April 22.
Simply say ‘RSA’ to the till operator to avail of a free coffee.