More than half of drivers use their phone while driving

The statistic comes despite drivers being subject to three penalty points for doing so

A new survey has found more than half of drivers use their phone behind the wheel - despite 46% of motorists supporting the introduction of technology to disable certain phone functions for the sake of safety.

The research, conducted by Contintenal Tyres, found that more than one in four respondents (26%) felt that some form of blocking device would be more effective at deterring mobile phone use than the introduction of harsher penalties. 

It is an offence to be seen to be holding a mobile phone, or to support it with another part of the body, such as between the neck and shoulder. Currently, Irish drivers are subject to three penalty points and an €80 fine for committing the act.

Despite this, 62% feel it is OK to use a phone in stopped or slow moving traffic.

Reaction

Head of Continental Tyres Ireland, Tom Dennigan, said: “Drivers know that their use of phones is illegal, distracting and dangerous, yet it is clear that many of them cannot help themselves.

“Nearly one in four told us they struggle to be digitally disconnected and 36% felt that so many people now checked their mobile in traffic that the practice has become normalised.”

Professor John Groeger, a specialist in driver psychology, said it is "imperative" that an enforced solution is considered.

“The ‘switch cost’ - the critical time it takes us to shift our concentration from a task like reading a text to again fully engaging in driving - is so important in reducing accidents," he said.

Figures

More than 28,000 people were detected holding a mobile phone while driving in 2015, the second highest driving offence detected nationally.

Every day, on average, 76 people are caught using their phones while driving, according to Garda figures.