Life Motoring

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Law must stop texts in the car

Minister Leo Varadkar's plan to throw the book at motorists caught texting is long overdue writes Campbell Spray

'Minister Leo Varadkar’s plan to throw the book at motorists caught texting is long overdue'
'Minister Leo Varadkar’s plan to throw the book at motorists caught texting is long overdue'
Campbell Spray

Campbell Spray

Let me count the ways I can kill people with my car. In fact, forget it. It is almost innumerable.

Cars are outright killing machines that need to be always treated with respect, both for yourself and other road users. People drive drunk, tired, upset and giddy. Inexperience takes its toll as does age and speed. But one of the most stupid things to do when driving is to start texting on your phone.

That's why I totally agree with Minister Leo Varadkar's decision to give texting drivers a mandatory court summons and a fine instead of just penalty points under new road safety regulations.

In fact, I would go further and put them in jail without fail and if they injure or kill people, prosecute them for murder. There is nothing more silly and avoidable than sending texts while driving.

While there are already a certain amount of prosecutions for holding and using a mobile phone while driving there are not nearly enough to really frighten people and ensure a proper level of compliance. I live near a big junction in Dublin and without fail every day I see drivers sweeping through corners with a phones glued to their ear. It is especially dangerous as a primary school is about 100 yards away. The new rules, which come into effect from May 1, mean anyone caught texting or "accessing information" on their phones will face a mandatory court appearance and a fine of up to €1,000 for a first offence.

Apparently this will rise to a maximum of €2,000 for a second offence, and a possible three-month jail sentence, along with a €2,000 fine, for three offences or more within a 12-month period.

While we must punish drivers it probably wouldn't also be a bad idea to find some way of fining the thousands of pedestrians who blithely walk into traffic while distracted on their phones or listening to music. Pedestrians are road users, they have their responsibilities too.

Car manufacturers unfortunately are falling over themselves to put more phone usage or connectivity into their vehicles.

These will be fine when cars drive themselves – and that day is coming, as we know – but until then the less distractions the better.

Whether you are using a Bluetooth system or not, talking on a phone is a no-no; your mind is meant to be on the road. The rudeness with which so many people use their phones and interrupt conversations or meals in everyday life, turns from a matter of manners to one of life and death.

Sunday Independent

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