Tuesday 25 October 2016

Anti smartphone rules while driving won't be updated

Paul Mallon

Published 18/01/2016 | 09:41


A new set of laws was supposed to be implemented to cut down on smartphone use while driving but this has been postponed

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Smartphone use while driving is a major issue, with distracted drivers far more likely to be involved in an accident. But the rules around using apps while operating a vehicle will not be updated.

The Road Traffic Bill 2016 is set to go before the Seanad this week and it was originally intended to include a new set of laws around the use of social media, texting and more while driving. This was to be an extension of laws put in place in 2014 which were aimed at addressing texting by drivers. As the deadline approaches for submission, the Department of Transport has admitted that the full breadth of the Bill has been scaled back, and they haven't had time to properly address the complexities behind electronic communication.

It's disappointing to see an issue like this left out of the legislation, especially as smartphone use has only grown in the months and years since the last addition to the Bill. And this ommission follows on from the previous update giving Gardai extra powers to intervene in suspected cases of mobile phone use behind the wheel. But the nature of those rules have proven to be practically uninforceable, and not a single person has been prosecuted since they were introduced in 2014.

The Road Traffic Bill 2016 will instead focus on driving under the influence of drugs, improved cross border disqualification recognition with the UK and the introduction of a new 20 kilometer per hour special speed limit.

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