More penalty points are awarded in Ireland to drivers Driving a vehicle while holding a mobile phone than for any other offence except Speeding.
The figures for the awarding of points for this offence by Gardai have remained uniform for the last few years in all the counties and cities in Ireland, however there is a category called “No Driver Number” which has shown a steady and significant increase from 19670 points awarded in Jan 2011 to 28329 in May 2013. If anyone wants to comment on the why that category (and none of the others) is showing this increase then please do.
The Dept. of Transport’s annual report for 2013 identifies “using a mobile phone while driving” as one of the four “main Road Traffic offences associated with serious accidents”. The other 3 are speeding, drink/drug driving and non–wearing of seatbelts. All four are identified in the report as the first offences that will be addressed in the mutual recognition of penalty points between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Not surprisingly the RSA is currently running a campaign in national media targeting drivers tempted to use a mobile phone while driving (which is anyone with a mobile phone and a car). The headline statistic from the campaign is “your mobile phone makes you four times more likely to crash”.
This statistic arises from a report the RSA published in May 2010 which also contains references to other studies carried out in the area of mobile phone use and distracted driving. That report should be read by anyone dealing with Road Traffic Accidents in Ireland. Here are some extracts:
“There are a large numbers of research sources on the topic. The research department in the Road Safety Authority has over a hundred research papers. The topic is also well referenced in all current traffic and transport safety publications (Cartt, Hellinga, & Bratiman, 2006).”
“Driver distraction is thought to play a role in 20-30% of all road collisions (Dews & Stayer,
“The vast majority of drivers (39 % to 45%) report using their mobile phone at least
sometimes while driving, and it is estimated that at any given moment during the day, 2 to
6% of the drivers is using a mobile phone (Road Safety Authority, 2010).”
“The mobile phone distracts drivers in two ways: it causes physical distraction and cognitive distraction. Physical distraction occurs when drivers have to simultaneously operate their mobile phone (i.e. reach, dial, hold) and operate their vehicle. Cognitive distraction occurs when a driver has to divert part of his/her attention from driving to the telephone conversation.”
“Probably the most famous and most frequently cited epidemiological study about the risks of mobile phone use while driving is the study of Redelmeier and Tibshirani (Redelemeir & Tibshirani, 1997). The researchers found that the risk of a collision when using a mobile phone was four times higher than the risk when a mobile telephone was not being used. The results of the study also suggested that hands-free phones offered no safety advantage over handheld units. Similar findings were achieved in other epidemiological studies (LabergeNadau, et al., 2003), (McEvoy, et al., 2005).”
“In 2002, a study by the Transport Research Laboratory in the UK found that while driving while intoxicated is clearly impaired, certain aspects of driving performance are even more
impaired by mobile phone use. (Burns, Parkes, Burton, Smith, & Burch, 2002). A similar
study in 2006 that mobile-phone drivers may exhibit greater impairments than intoxicated
drivers. (Strayer, Drews, & Crouch, 2006).”
“The use of hand-held mobile phones while driving is illegal in over 40 countries….; most EU countries, Australia, and one Canadian province and the United States.”
Drink driving began to be recognised as a serious problem in the 1960’s. Fifty years later is using a mobile phone while driving beginning to be treated in the same way?