More than 28,000 drivers were detected holding a mobile phone while behind the wheel of a vehicle in 2015 – on average 76 a day – according to latest figures, as An Garda Síochána prepare to ‘hit the road’ in a major mobile phone operation crackdown.
An Garda Síochána will conduct a targeted mobile phone operation over the coming days. Distracted driving, such as using or holding a mobile phone when behind the wheel is a high risk activity for all road users and as such must be addressed. Intercepting such distracted drivers will modify driver behaviour, thus making the roads safer for all road users.
All available Garda personnel, both uniform and plain clothes will participate in this targeted mobile phone enforcement operation. The aim of the operation is to detect offending motorists who hold or use a mobile phone while driving.
In 2015, there were over 28,000 people detected holding a mobile phone whilst driving, the second highest offence detected nationally. It is not uncommon to see offending motorists hold a mobile phone whilst driving, even when passing marked Garda vehicles. This display of bad driver behaviour requires continued and prolonged attention. The average daily detection rate of 76 therefore it is apparent that holding a mobile phone whilst driving remains a significant issue.
Drivers are advised that an offence is committed when “holding a mobile phone while driving”. This can be in the hand or supporting or cradling it with another part of the body, i.e. between the neck and shoulder. It is not a requisite that a person is actually engaged in a conversation. Similarly a person texting, or accessing the internet/ emails etc, is committing an offence if “holding” the device as outlined above.
Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid said: “Distracted driving causes collisions, and using or holding a mobile phone whilst driving, is a prime example of distracted driving. We are announcing that there will be a targeted operation taking place over the next few days, but not announcing the exact dates. This is to give people an opportunity to modify their behaviour and put away that mobile phone. A mobile phone these days is a portable computer or office and there are a multitude of applications etc that can easily distract a driver whilst they should be focusing solely on driving.”
Continuing, he added: “On average 76 people are detected every day for mobile phone offences. There are far more that aren’t, and every one of them is driving distracted, causing risk on the road for all road users. Our appeal, and why we are advertising this operation in advance, is for drivers to modify their driving. Switch off before you drive off…no call, text or email is that important that you risk your or someone else’s life.”
The offence of holding a mobile phone whilst driving carries a fixed charge notice penalty of three penalty points and €80 euro fine if paid within 28 days.