Friday 24 May 2019

Eddie Cunningham: 'What will it take to curb this phone at the wheel madness?'

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Texting at the wheel. Photo posed.
Texting at the wheel. Photo posed.
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

So there has been a 24pc increase in the number of detections of drivers phoning at the wheel (see RSA results elsewhere) in the opening few months of 2019.

What exactly does that mean?

On the face of it the figures suggest we have gone even madder than had previously been thought.

But if you stop and think a moment I suggest there could be at least one other factor behind the startling figures.

I'll pose it in the form of a question. Has there been more garda activity over the past few months than was the case for the corresponding period in 2018?

I suspect there has been.

Of course, I am going purely on anecdotal evidence.

But from what I see every week on my drives around the country, I think there has been more of a consistent clampdown.

Obviously that means (again my personal opinion) they're have been more detections.

How could we be surprised?

People were, and are, flouting the law at a rate of abandon that beggars belief.

Every week I have to resist the temptation, somewhere in this supplement, of reporting on more flagrant breaches of the law on phones at the wheel. I usually resist because I don't want repetition to morph into utter boredom.

But seeing those figures from the RSA, I couldn't resist.

And I know what I say makes damn all difference. The resources of RSA and gardai appear to have little or no effect so who is going to listen to a ranting Offaly man?

What do we (as a society) do? We have warnings, penalty-point threats, all sorts of campaigns, statistics proving use of a phone at the wheel is much more likely to result in an accident; yet we appear to disregard them.

Of course, there will always be the hardcore offenders. But you would expect their numbers to be relatively small and, hopefully, diminishing by now.

The hard question is: do we need more draconian measures to curb this madness? Just how severe do we need punishments to be before people take them seriously and act accordingly?

Surely to God we're not talking about cars being seized are we? Or are we?

Would such a punishment fit the crime do you think?

I think it's OTT. What do you think?

ecunningham@independent.ie

* It's all a bit Wild West this week, I'm afraid, with the AA's recent survey showing nearly one-in-eight motorists admitted to speeding within the previous seven days.

In response to a survey of more than 3,000 motorists, 12.13pc admitted they had broken the speed limit on at least one occasion in the week prior to the survey.

A further 12.72pc admitted breaking the limit over the previous month. Put them all together and, the AA says, you get a total of one-in-four motorists who offended.

More men (15.18pc) admitted to breaking the limit compared with 8.37pc of women.

* Diesel is not quite on the way out yet, new SEAT-commissioned research suggests. Allowing for the fact the brand has a major vested interest in the genre, it is still worth noting that 50pc of potential Irish buyers would choose a diesel car compared with 32pc for petrol.

Motorists would prefer to change their car every three years, the survey also found.

And a key reason for changing is the need for a larger model to meet the needs of a growing family. More than half the households have two cars.

Indo Motoring

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