Sunday 18 March 2018

We're slipping back into our old phone-at-the-wheel habits

Talking Point

'This phone at the wheel thing is cultural' - Eddie Cunningham.
'This phone at the wheel thing is cultural' - Eddie Cunningham.
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

YOU can quote surveys and statistics all you like but I know what I see.

And I see more drivers texting or phoning at the wheel compared with a month ago. Certainly more than there were around early in May. I think there was a small No-Text-At-Wheel period. It's over. We're slipping back.

You can challenge me – feel free please – but there is no denying the evidence I've come across.

Out on the M4, the M50, in Stillorgan, Sandyford Industrial Estate, near Bray, Newcastle, Co Dublin, Blackrock . . . I could go on and on. Some were blatant, some sneaked a peep, some appeared nonchalant but each and every one was fiddling with their phones to talk or text while driving or waiting for lights to change.

I know there was a blitz in April/May but it is difficult for gardai to maintain that level of vigilance and they have plenty of other stuff to be taking care of.

No, this phone-at-the-wheel thing is cultural. We need to deal with it. We seem to feel we have to talk or communicate at every opportunity. It's in our genes. It's as if we can't resist. As if every communications system in the world is going to crash any minute and we won't have had the chance to reply to someone we don't know that well and don't really care too much about.

But we still have to get back to them with our 'chat soon', 'catch up tmro', 'c u den', 'take care x'.

There is no sense in me labouring the point. It is like every other initiative –there is a sharp upward spiral of awareness and obedience then a gradual slip into old ways.

This is going to take time; as it has with many other aspects of road safety.

In the meantime we are distracting ourselves recklessly behind the wheel.

* Let me know what you think and if you agree or disagree with me that there are more people using a phone at the wheel.


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