Facebook and Twitter the new driving hazards
INCREASING numbers of Wexford motorists have their eyes on their smart phones and not the road in front of them, according to figures obtained by this newspaper.
In 2013 there were 660 on the spot notices issued in the county by Gardaí for using a mobile phone while driving a vehicle. This is up 7 per cent on 2012 and senior Wexford Garda spokesperson is concerned the habit of using mobile phones to look at social media sites and to text is becoming engrained in drivers here.
Another worrying statistic to emerge from the 2013 motoring statistics for the county is that there were 910 Garda speeding detections, which excludes the thousands of Wexford motorists caught speeding by GoSafe van operators around then county last year.
The spokesperson said speed is the main cause of accidents, from material accidents to fatal accidents in County Wexford.
'The use of mobile phones while driving is another factor and it's not just for making and receiving calls. Today drivers are texting and using their phones for social media like Facebook and Twitter, and others are using them to listen to music. All of this is a distraction.'
There were seven people killed on our roads in County Wexford in 2013, down two from 2012 and Gardai attribute the reduction to an educational campaign launched in secondary schools across the county over the past five years.
'We had seven fatalities which is a welcome reduction of two compared to 2012 and the county bucked the national trend, but seven is still too many. We have concentrated a lot on educating young people in secondary schools. They are the people who are now in their early 20s and we are probably seeing the results of these safe driving programmes.'
Emergency personnel, A&E doctors and driving instructors attend these courses where graphic videos of crashes are shown to highlight the dangers of speeding.
The Garda spokesperson said it was encouraging to see drink driving arrests down 24 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012, adding that there were 15 arrests for this offence over the Christmas period throughout the county, down 30 per cent on the same period in 2012.
'That is in keeping with figures from across the country, while the number of road fatalities has bucked the national trend which has seen a rise in deaths on the country's roads last year.'
In 2013 there were 420 on the spot notices for failure to wear seat belts, down 20 per cent on figures from 2012, but the spokesperson said failing to wear a seat belt can lead to serious injury for drivers.