Mobile phone use 'under-represented' in road safety data

Almost one-in-four drivers check notifications while driving and 37% do not regularly practice safe mobile phone use behaviours
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.51 1 May 2024

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Mobile phone use 'under-repres...

Mobile phone use 'under-represented' in road safety data

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.51 1 May 2024

Share this article

The use of mobile phones in relation to road deaths is 'under-represented' in the data that we have, a transport consultant has said.

A Road Safety Authority (RSA) survey from 2022 found almost one-in-four drivers check mobile phone notifications while driving.

Some 37% of motorists do not regularly practice safe mobile phone use behaviours.


International research suggests drivers are four-times more likely to be involved in a collision if they use their mobile phone while driving.

It follows the inaugural Road Safety Youth Forum which took place last week.

It's made up of 20 young people between the ages of 12 and 25 and will meet eight times over a two-year period.

Over one-quarter of fatalities on Irish roads were aged 16 to 25 last year, compared with 16% in 2022.

Transport consultant Conor Faughnan told The Pat Kenny Show younger people are genuinely interested in road safety.

"They're trying to listen to young people and see what they think about the road safety problem, the road safety situation, what the solutions are etc," he said.

"The cynic could say it's a talking shop but we'll see.

"One thing that bounced out of it for me... is young people are actually genuinely interested in road safety.

"They are seeing the headlines, they know as well as anybody else that our road safety figures are worsening".

Caucasian man using cell phone and driving car. Man using a mobile phone and driving a car. Image: Mint Images Limited / Alamy

Mr Faughnan said he believes mobile phone use is under-represented in the existing figures.

"I think experts will agree that mobile phone use must be under-represented in the data that we have," he said.

"When a fatality or something really serious occurs that triggers suspicious death protocols for the Gardaí, they investigate forensically.

"You'd imagine that would include accessing phone records to see if something has occurred there.

"But in a more routine event, let's say a minor injury, phone use remains hidden".

A man uses a mobile phone in Rome, Italy in June 2017. A man uses a mobile phone in Rome, Italy in June 2017. Picture by: Pacific Press Media Production Corp. / Alamy Stock Photo

Mr Faughnan said drivers will rarely admit when they use a mobile phone.

"The driver obviously doesn't tell the insurance company, 'I was texting at the time I hit the tree'," he said.

"So one suspects that that is under-researched - and likewise [with] the use of drugs.

"Alcohol is quite well researched, other drugs far less so".

'Incredible technology'

Mr Faughnan also acknowledged mobiles have likely saved more people on the roads.

"The mobile phone is an incredible piece of technology," he said.

"It has saved more lives on the road than it's cost in all likelihood, because you can ring emergency services, your phone can report where you are, etc

"But the technology can be abused and if abused it can be dangerous".

Mr Faughnan added that one thing young people seem to want is road safety taught in schools with Transition Year "a perfect opportunity".

Main image: A woman in a car talking on a mobile phone, 21-5-15. Image: Ian Allenden / Alamy 

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Conor Faughnan Mobile Phone Mobile Phones RSA Road Safety Road Safety Authority Road Safety Data Road Safety Youth Forum The Pat Kenny Show Transport Consultant

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