A new report has revealed that almost two thirds of drivers across Northern Ireland used their mobile phone while at the wheel last year.
The shock figure is one of a number contained within a new ‘Road Safety Issues’ report that has been published by the Department for Infrastructure.
The report was compiled from information gathered through the Continuous Household Survey “in relation to the attitudes, awareness and behaviours of respondents to specific road safety issues”.
“The final dataset contains the records for 1,855 adults with these people being asked questions relating to their mobile phone usage while driving and the likelihood of being caught by police with 1,841 providing responses to at least one of these questions,” the report states.
Over half of all drivers (55%) surveyed reported they had resorted to picking up their phone to make a hands-free call while driving, with males just as likely to do this when parked up, sitting in traffic.
Just over one in twenty of all drivers (6%) questioned confirmed that they had used their phone to make a hand-held call while driving.
Older motorists – those aged 65 and over – identified as the group who were least likely to use their phone when behind the wheel with just over a third (34%) of those aged 65 and above admitting to having done so in the last 12 months.
The report also found that 14% of respondents sent a text when moving and 16% lifted their mobile for a “quick check” when it pinged. 5% resorted to using it for e-mail and social media reasons, and 27% for sat-nav and music-related activities.
In terms of enforcement, 52% of respondents said it was unlikely they would be caught by the police using the mobile phone when driving, with the remaining 48% saying they would be. Detection results in a £200 fine and six penalty points.
“The Department for Infrastructure and its Road Safety Partners are committed to promoting improved road safety, and to deliver better regulation of the transport sector,” said a Department for Infrastructure spokesperson.