Saturday 20 October 2018

'Our loved ones aren't coming back to us, it's unforgivable' - road safety campaigners urge drivers not to use their phones

One in four drivers admit to using social media behind the wheel, according to new research

Donna Price, Mullingar, Co.Westmeath, Founder and Chairperson of the Irish Road Victims' Association who lost her 18 year old son Darren in a car crash near Tyrellstown,Co.Westmeath in 2006 Pic Tom Burke 11/7/2017
Donna Price, Mullingar, Co.Westmeath, Founder and Chairperson of the Irish Road Victims' Association who lost her 18 year old son Darren in a car crash near Tyrellstown,Co.Westmeath in 2006 Pic Tom Burke 11/7/2017

Rachel Farrell

The devastated mother of a young man killed in a road accident is backing a campaign to urge motorists not to use their phones, saying: "there is no turning back the clock."

Wandering thoughts, other passengers and social media are among the biggest distractions for Ireland’s road users, the study revealed.

Some 28pc of drivers said that mobile phones interfere with their driving, according to the research by Allianz Ireland.

One in four (25pc) of drivers admitted to using social media while driving.

Conducted by Coyne Research, the study found that out of 1,000 adults surveyed, 10pc admitted to Googling something while driving.

A further 8pc browsed Facebook behind the wheel, while 5pc took a Snapchat or videoed something.

Founder of the Irish Road Victims Association (IRVA) Donna Price, whose son Darren (18) was killed in a collision in 2006, said the results were “frightening” following the efforts of road safety campaigners.

“It is frightening to see the amount of people using our roads while on their phones, talking, scrolling and texting,” Ms Price told Independent.ie.

“There is no turning back the clock. Our families know the anguish and pain of such a preventable loss. Our loved ones aren't coming back to us.”

Ms Price said that breaking the road traffic law is “unforgivable” and appealed for a larger Garda presence on Irish roads.

“Their lives have been cut short, many through no fault of their own. To lose a child is the worst pain that a parent can ever experience. If that loss is due to another road user breaking the road traffic law, it is simply unforgivable. 

“We need to see the Gardai properly resourced and much more visible out there on the roads, so that road users can expect to be stopped when they are driving while so distracted that they are a real danger to themselves and others.”

The IRVA chairperson called on drivers to obey the rules of the road and pleaded with the public to put their phones away.

“Please obey the road traffic law and slow down, put your phone away and never drive while drunk, drugged, distracted or drowsy,” she said.

“Please play your part in keeping our roads safe for all road users and let's all get home safely to our families.”

Some 37pc of participants in the study found other passengers to be a major distraction, and 21pc said their children caused them to lose focus.

Another 37pc blamed their wandering thoughts for taking their eyes off the road.

The research found that 18-34 year olds are most likely to look at social media behind the wheel.

CEO at Allianz Sean McGrath said that driver distraction is a cause of almost 30pc of road accidents in Ireland. 

“It is tempting to take your eyes off the road and give into distractions,” Mr McGrath said.

“However, we must remember last year the Road Safety Authority highlighted that driver distraction plays a role in 20-30pc of all road collisions and is a significant contributory factor in over 1,400 fatal and injury collisions annually here in Ireland.”

Mr McGrath added that wandering thoughts could be a sign of fatigue and advised drivers to take a break if they feel tired on the road.

“Drivers need to prioritise road safety when behind the wheel,” he said.

“Please put the phone away and keep distractions to a minimum, if you find your thoughts and attention wandering, that may be a sign of fatigue, and you should take a break, such small steps could save your life.”

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