Put the phone down, look twice, save a life!

It’s a simple message but one which is obviously not getting through to drivers.

We see it every day and on every ride. Use of mobile phones while driving is simply epidemic. The latest figures from the Gardai show that – on average – more than 2,100 people a month are being issued with fixed penalty notices for using a mobile while driving.

Fixed penalty notices for mobile phone use Jan to Jun 2013

An average of over 2,100 fixed penalty notices issued per month for using a mobile phone while driving.


RSA LogoIn 2009 the RSA carried out a survey of phone use by drivers. This survey reported that 6% of drivers were observed to use a phone while driving, with observed rates varying between 2% and 16% depending on location. The RSA’s report is quite short at just 9 pages but nevertheless provides some useful insights. It also raises some questions, such as why there is a big difference in compliance between Cork & Dublin.  (source)

Anecdotal evidence would tend to suggest that phone usage rates are much higher than the report shows, at least on the East coast. The sheer volume of fixed penalty notices issued suggests likewise, particularly given that enforcement requires direct intervention by Gardai who must stop the driver in question to issue the notice.

A particular concern of the RSA (and one shared by MAG Ireland) is the number of motorcycle fatalities that have occurred to date in 2013. 18 riders have already lost their lives on Irish roads this year compared to 16 in all of 2012. (source)

RSA: Your mobile phone makes you four times more likely to crash. And when you consider that driver distraction plays a role in 20-30% of all road collisions, phone use and driving is an issue that we all need to think differently about. (source)

We know that one of the most common motorcycle collisions is the dreaded “SMIDSY” (Sorry mate, I didn’t see you) where a driver pulls out on (or turns across the path of) an approaching motorcycle.

A recent Garda report into 48 motorcycle collisions between the January 2011 and July 2013 found that three out of every four involved another vehicle. Nearly three quarters (72%) of fatal collisions were outside built up areas – in 80 km/h or 100 km/h speed limit zones. (source)


According to the Gardai:

“Increased availability of technologies for use in vehicles has caused safety problems relating to driver distraction to escalate. RSA research has shown that many drivers (39 – 45%) report using their mobile phones at least sometimes while driving, and it is estimated that at any given moment during the day, two to six per cent of drivers is using a mobile phone.” (source)

Last year we reported on a distracted driving study which found that “The most revealing result was the 79% reduction in attention while texting and driving, and this was the only test which caused any participant to crash the simulated car.” (source)


For us as riders, the implications are crystal clear – Distracted driving is a significant contributor to motorcycle casualties. Precisely how significant is difficult to quantify, but RSA figures above suggest it may be as high as one in four collisions.

textingWhat all the studies, reports and surveys are telling us is that distracted driving is a growing problem.

The mobile phone of a decade ago was used only for calls and texts. Today’s smart phones provide a wide range of potential distractions from social networking and e-mail to games and instant messaging. This problem is simply not going away, and we as riders need to take account of that.

Too many riders have been hurt, or worse, by the inattention of drivers focussed on their phones. Our message to drivers is a simple one.

Put the Phone Down
Look Twice
Save a Life!