More than half of NI drivers admit using mobile phone while driving

More than half of Northern Ireland’s drivers used their phone while driving in 2019/20, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has revealed.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 19th February 2021, 7:19 am
Figures show in-car phone use in Northern Ireland is on the rise
Figures show in-car phone use in Northern Ireland is on the rise

The information forms part of the department’s Continuous Houshold Survey for 2019/20.

The survey was compiled from a random sample of 9,000 domestic addresses drawn from the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency address register and contains responses from 2,962 adults.

Among the key findings of a report focused on the attitudes, awareness and behaviour of respondents to specific road safety issues is the fact 57% of those who responded to the survey admitted to using their mobile phone in some capacity while driving.

This is an increase on the 52% of respondents who admitted doing so in the 2018/19 survey.

While many who admitted to doing so said they made hands-free calls while driving (45%), or made or took a call while the vehicle was stationary (40%), 9% of drivers admitted to making a hand-held call while driving.

The results show men (8%) are slightly more likely to make or take a hand-held call while driving than their female counterparts (6%).

A similar divide is noted between rural and urban motorists, with 8% of rural drivers admitting to holding their phone as they made or took a call whilst driving, compared with 6% of urban motorists.

There was little difference noted between age groups younger than 65. However, only 2% of those 65 or over admitted to holding their phone while driving compared with 8% of those under 65.

Over two-thirds (69%) of the survey’s respondents correctly identified the police penalty for being caught driving whilst using a mobile phone as a £60 fine and three penalty points.

However, almost three-fifths of those surveyed (59%) said they believed this penalty should be increased.

This month, the penalty for the illegal use of a mobile phone behind the wheel of a vehicle increased to six penalty points and a fine of £200.

Despite the majority of respondents recognising the potential penalty for using a mobile phone whilst driving, only 49% of respondents believe drivers are likely to be stopped by police for the offence.

With regards to the risks associated with using a mobile phone while driving, 94% of respondents said doing so increased the chance of causing a crash, while 86% said doing so made motorists more likely to be involved in in a crash and less likely to notice a danger ahead.