Irish motorists have little sympathy for drivers who use their mobiles according to research from AA Motor Insurance. In a survey of over 16,000 AA customers, 58.4% wanted to see a higher number of penalty points for the offence. Two thirds of respondents wanted to see heftier fines for those who can’t kick the habit.
Under the current legislation motorist caught using a handheld mobile phone while driving can expect to receive 2 penalty points and a €60 fine; however just 19.5% of motorists polled by AA Motor Insurance believe the current system to be adequate.
“Mobile phone use is something that really seems to cause frustration and exasperation among drivers.” Says John Farrell, Director of AA Motor Insurance. “We can all see it every day, and we all know it is a bad and obviously dangerous habit.”
8% of respondents went even further to say they would prefer a strict zero tolerance policy. This unambiguous group of drivers share the belief that those caught using a handheld mobile phone while driving should be banned from driving outright regardless of the circumstances.
Motorists are not unanimous though. Individual comments received by the AA ranged from a belief that there should be no penalties at all for phone use to a desire to see prison sentences imposed. But overall there is no doubt that drivers accept the law and want to see it enforced or even strengthened.
“The simple fact of the matter is that you’re four times more likely to crash when you’ve got a mobile phone in your hand, so it’s in everyone’s interest to tackle the issue.” Says Farrell. “The law is there for a good reason. There can hardly be a driver in Ireland who does not know that using a hand held phone while driving is illegal. It must be one of the silliest and most avoidable ways in which to get penalty points.”
Many drivers in the survey made the point that better enforcement of existing laws is the solution, rather than tougher penalties.
Among the other potential solutions offered by the AA Motor Insurance poll participants were:
- An incremental penalty system to deter repeat offenders
- Confiscation of mobile phones by Gardaí
- Tax break on hands free car kits
- A major enforcement drive by Gardaí similar to their campaign around bus lanes
- A segregated penalty system based on how and when motorists use their phone. (E.g. texting versus phone calls, while in traffic jams versus on a dual carriage way for example)
Notes to the editor;
Whether or not AA Poll respondents would be in favor of any of the following penalties being introduced to penalize those caught using their mobile phones while driving. (Based on 16,114 responses).
|Agree completely||Agree somewhat||Neutral||Disagree somewhat||Disagree completely|
|I believe phone use should incur more than 2 penalty points||40.7%||17.7%||14.7%||14.3%||13.1%|
|I believe phone use should incur a higher fine that the current €60||47.1%||18.9%||12.4%||10.7%||11.3%|
|I believe the current punishment to be sufficient||19.5%||20.0%||14.7%||20.8%||25.8%|
|I believe that drivers who are caught using a mobile phone should be put off the road||8.0%||9.5%||11.5%||24.7%||46.8%|