Gardaí made more than 3,000 detections of motorists using mobile phones while driving last May — one of the highest figures for a single month on record.
A total of 3,186 detections were made in the month, equating to gardaí capturing in excess of 110 drivers holding a mobile phone while driving per day.
This high figure is despite An Garda Síochána issuing an advance warning to the public that they would be carrying out a special detection operation in May.
In 2015, the average daily rate for detection was 76 motorists caught driving while using their mobile phone, which amounted to 28,000 detections in the entire year.
The latest figures for 2016, from the beginning of January up to the end of May, show that gardaí have made 12,736 detections.
A total of 1,876 motorists were caught driving while using their mobile phone in January; 2,438 in February; 2,417 in March; 2,819 in April; and 3,186 for May.
New regulations came into effect in May 2014, making the use of mobile phones while driving an offence.
The offence carries a fixed charge notice of three penalty points and an €80 fine if paid within 28 days.
It is also an offence to send or text from a mobile phone while driving in a public place.
A spokesperson from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) told the Irish Examiner that using a phone while driving quadrupled the chances of crashing.
“The use of mobile phones while driving is a big concern to the RSA. The message from the RSA on this is very simple: Switch off before you drive off, because your mobile phone makes you four times more likely to crash,” said the spokesperson.
The spokesperson added that almost a third of traffic collisions on Irish roads can be related to distracted driving and phones are the biggest distractions of a motorist’s concentration.
“Distracted driving could be a factor in as many 20%-30% of all collisions in this country. Mobile phones are the biggest distraction we as drivers in this country face while driving. That is why last year the RSA developed a campaign focusing on this very dangerous behaviour,” said the spokesperson.
Separate to the 2016 figures, An Garda Síochána released the detection statistics for the whole of 2015, last May.
At the same time of the release, a clampdown was carried out nationwide, which perhaps explains the high detection rate for May.
“It is very disappointing to discover that, even with advance warning, in excess of 110 drivers were found holding a mobile phone whilst driving. There is no doubt such a distraction contributes to collisions,” said Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid.
Chief Supt Reid also warned motorists that further campaigns to detect mobile phone usage on our roads were planned for 2016.
“Please be aware that more such targeted operations will be taking place, so make that choice to put the mobile away,” he said.
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