“4 out of 5 Irish drivers admit to using electronic devices or to consulting maps whilst driving. That compares to two-thirds of British drivers so we’re quite ahead… A quarter of Irish drivers will admit to sending text messages, that’s about double the UK average and again in terms of checking social media whilst driving, it’s higher here really than most parts of Europe so we’ve a very significant problem.”
These stats were relayed to Sean O’Rourke by reporter Brian O’Connell, who went on patrol with Gardaí Jim Bugler and Connor McDermott in Cork, on the lookout for mobile phone offenders. They explained,
“Just holding a phone while driving is the actual offence. The initial penalty is €80 and 3 penalty points but that rises once you go to court.”
Sure enough, several drivers were caught and penalized for speaking on the phone while driving and the gardaí wanted to stress how seriously they take this threat to drivers.
“Mobile phone is one of those lifesaver offences, so we’d be looking at seat belt, mobile phones, speed, drink driving.”
Brian also spoke with tech entrepreneur John Goggin who is working on expanding US company Cell Control that produces software to block calls while driving. It has become popular with US companies who employ drivers.
“There’s an epidemic happening with distracted driving. I think we’re all guilty at some stage of, I call it phone-on-the-seat syndrome, where we get a text message, we get an email and we lean across to check what it is… Once the software is enabled, the phone is automatically blocked once the vehicle moves. Once the journey completes, the information downloads and they receive their text messages and their emails.”
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