Aoife Walsh writes on the dangers of using your phone while on the road.
In this day and age, our phones are our most trusted companion. They’re with us from the moment we wake up in the morning, until the moment we go to sleep. Whether you’re a smartphone fanatic or still making use of the good old Nokia blockia, it’s extremely common for your phone to play an integral role in your everyday life.
With this in mind, it is important to understand how necessary it is to put your mobile phone down and pay attention when driving. On May 1st 2014, legislation which states that it is an offence to read or send a text message, or e-mail from a mobile phone while driving came into effect. This legislation was a paramount development in the Road Traffic Act 2006. To emphasize its importance, it is worthwhile to acknowledge research carried out by Road Safety Awareness Ireland (RSA) which revealed that driver distraction plays a role in 20-30% of all road collisions, and what could be more of a distraction than a shiny, bright screen that is making noises in an attempt to grab your attention like a young child tugging on your sleeve, begging for ice-cream. And sure, at first, looking down quickly to open a Snapchat, pick a new song from your playlist, or even reply to a text can seem harmless. However, it is fundamental that we recognise that this is not the case.
We tell ourselves things like “there’s no other cars on the road, and I’m doing less than the speed limit. It will only take me a second to tap play.” But what we’re failing to understand is the fact that a split second, which seems so harmless and quick, is all it takes for something to go wrong.
Last year, there was 159 fatalities on Irish roads. That figure may seem meaningless to you, but if you are someone who frequently, or has at one point, used their phone while driving there is very little standing in between those 159 lives lost and potentially yours. You are not an exception to the rule, or any different from another driver operating a phone. It is crucial to expect the unexpected when driving. If your eyes are not on the road, then you are as incompetent as a drunk driver, or someone who fell asleep behind the wheel. Both acts carry the same weight and are equally as harmful.
You are someone’s child, a friend, a significant other, a grandchild, the list goes on. Your life is as important as anyone else’s. When you operate a moving vehicle, you have got a responsibility to protect yourself and other road users. Risking your life, or the life of someone else because you couldn’t wait until you got out of the car to check your email is inexcusable. The next time you go to reach for your phone when behind the wheel, ask yourself “is it worth it?”
For more information, visit the Road Safety Authority website at: http://www.rsa.ie