Half of drivers back blanket block on mobiles

A new survey of Irish motorists shows that nearly half of Irish drivers (46pc) would support the introduction of technology to disable certain phone functions for the sake of safety, writes Trish Whelan.

Some 26pc of respondents felt that some form of blocking device would be more effective at deterring mobile phone use than the introduction of harsher penalties.

The survey, for Continental Tyres’ Vision Zero initiative - a commitment to reduce road fatalities worldwide - also highlighted that more than half of drivers admit to regularly using their mobile phone while behind the wheel.

Other key findings include more than one-third feel that mobile phone use is ‘normalised’ as so many people are doing it; 23pc of drivers say they find it difficult to be disconnected from their mobiles for any length of time; and 62pc feel it’s OK to use a phone if stopped or in slow moving traffic versus 22pc who said it is illegal to use a phone in any traffic situation.

Making or receiving calls and texting are still the most common activities with 64pc admitting to using a phone behind the wheel. Some 49pc of drivers say they regularly use their phone for accessing their social media profiles while driving.

Head of Continental Tyres Ireland, Tom Dennigan, said their research reveals that drivers know that their use of phones is illegal, distracting and dangerous, yet it is clear that many of them can’t help themselves.

In addition to the need to improve motorists’ behaviour, he said it is apparent that there is a strong desire for technology to help deliver the solution and enhance road safety. “Nearly a half of drivers, 46pc, think the Government should enforce a device to disable web-browsing, emails and the ability to send and receive texts.”

Professor John Groeger, a specialist in driver psychology and author of ‘Sharing the Driving’ for Continental Tyres said there is no such system currently available.

“It is imperative that we find a way to resolve this as the ‘switch cost’ - the critical time it takes us to shift our concentration from a task like reading a text to again be fully engaging in driving, is so important in reducing accidents.”

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