Our website uses cookies to enhance your browsing experience and to collect information about how you use this site to improve our service to you. By not accepting cookies some elements of the site, such as video, will not work. Please visit our Cookie Policy page for more information on how we use cookies.

Traffic - Distracted Driving

Garda Adrian Corcoran was in studio to discuss distracted driving, offering advice and explaining the dangers associated with it to the public. Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaging in other activities which distract the driver’s attention away from the road. Distractions are shown to compromise the safety of the driver, passengers, pedestrians, and people in other vehicles. Distracted driving includes talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, adjusting the radio, entertainment or navigation system, anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving. It is estimated that driver distraction could play a role in 20-30% of all road collisions in this country. 

Mobile phones are the number one distraction to drivers on Irish roads. Despite the fact that using mobile phones while driving is killing people on our roads, people continue to text, make phone calls, take selfies or update their social media pages while driving. Statistics show that making a call makes a driver four times more likely to be involved in a collision and texting makes a driver (23) times more likely to be involved in a collision.

From Adrian’s experience of enforcing this legislation it seems a lot of drivers think that the offence is talking onto the phone or holding it to their ear, this is not the case. The offence is holding a mobile phone while driving. This means that simply holding a mobile phone in your hand is an offence. 

Supporting a mobile phone with any part of your body is also considered to be holding a mobile phone. An example of this would be supporting it between your head and shoulder.

It is illegal to access information on a mobile phone while driving, even if it’s in a cradle. 

If taking or making calls while using your cars bluetooth system this should be done either through the buttons on the steering wheel or through voice commands. Hands-free or bluetooth systems can be just as distracting while driving so it’s advisable to only use when absolutely necessary and keep calls as short as possible. 

Research shows that if you drive and use your mobile phone (hand-held or hands-free) it will hinder your driving in different ways. It makes it harder for you to: 

  • Keep in lane
  • Drive at the right speed
  • Keep a good distance from the car in front
  • Judge safe gaps in traffic 

Child distraction is the second biggest distraction to drivers on our roads. The most common types of distraction that children can cause include the driver turning to look at them or observing them by using rear view mirror, engaging in conversation, leaning into the back to help/pacify or in an attempt to play with them. 

Attempting to attend to the children in the back puts not only everybody in the car at risk but also other road users. We would advise parents to give serious thought to your children’s need before you set off on your journey. If you need to attend to your children while driving find a safe place to pull over before doing so. Ensuring that children are properly restrained in their car seat is essential to reduce driver distraction. 

A parent wouldn’t ignore their child screaming in the back without at least trying to intervene. The very act of attempting to attend to their children’s needs puts them and their children in mortal danger. 

In my years as a member of Roads Policing Adrian has experienced drivers having their breakfast, putting on makeup to watching Netflix, all while driving. 


In recent years Satellite Navigation systems in cars have become a major distraction to drivers. We would advise entering your co-ordinates or destination before you set off and if you need to make any adjustments along the way, again find a safe place to pull over and do so.   

As we said earlier driver distraction comes in many forms and if something you are doing while driving feels intuitively wrong then it probably is wrong. The consequences for taking your attention away from your driving can be life changing for you and for others. 

There are some simple things you can do to make sure there’s nothing to distract you and that your full attention is on the road. 

Clear out clutter – cans and soft drink bottles rolling around under your seat are clearly a distraction. 

If listening to playlists make sure they’re set up on your device before you leave. 

Try not to drive if you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or you think you won’t be able to give driving your full attention. 

Secure your pet properly. Never let your pet travel loose in the car. Besides being a serious distraction, if they’re free to jump about inside the car, they’re more likely to be injured or injure you if you are involved in a collision. 


Mobile phone

If you are found to be holding a mobile phone while driving by a member of An Garda Síochána you will receive a fixed charge notice of €60 and 3 penalty points on your driving licence. If you choose not to pay the fixed charge and are then convicted in court you will get 5 penalty points and a fine of up to €2000. 

Driver Distraction

If you are guilty of driver distraction the penalty will depend on the seriousness of the offence, and sometimes on how many offences you have committed in the past. It ranges from a fixed charge notice for the offence of ‘driving without reasonable consideration’ which will mean an €80 fine and 2 penalty points to the upper end of the scale, ‘dangerous driving causing death/serious injury’ where you could be fined up to €20000 and receive a jail sentence of up to 10 years.