In Ireland, motor vehicle deaths grew steadily from 302 in 1960 to 628 in 1978. Deaths fell steadily until 2012 with 162 recorded deaths. This was due to laws and penalties relating to drink driving becoming tougher; improvements to our road infrastructure and increased driver training and awareness. The continuous investment in safety features by motor manufacturers also contributed to the fall.
In common with many other Western countries, Ireland has in recent years experienced a tick up in road deaths with 188 people dying in 2016 and 2017 is looking likely to exceed that figure.
Experts on road safety worldwide agree that the culprits are motorists’ texting while driving. Smartphone use while driving is rampant.
In 2014, A T & T conducted a survey of 1,000 customers in the US about phone use. 98% of respondents said it was dangerous to drive and text at the same time but 74% of them admitted doing it anyway.
An experiment conducted this year by Eriksson and Stanton on driver reaction times, when drivers are engaged in other activities, such as reading while driving, showed their reaction time to be about 2 seconds longer to resume control of the vehicle.
The US National Safety Council believes that the problem is not the cars but the devices being brought into cars.
Pressure on mobile phone manufacturers seems to be paying dividends. At its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple announced that the next version of the iPhone’s operating system, iOS 11, will prompt every user to turn on an optional new “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode.
When the new system is pushed out to users in September, the new mode will prevent messages and other notification appearing on-screen and includes an automated response to contacts that text a warning the person is driving and will respond on arrival.
If a motorist forgets to turn the mode on, the iPhone will automatically do so when blue tooth is connected or its wireless sensors detect the car is in motion.
The message to drivers is ‘never text and drive’