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The Gardai have launched their Christmas and New Year road safety appeal which focuses on the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and the devastating loss of life and serious injuries it can cause. To date, 153 people have lost their lives on Ireland’s roads, 30 more than on the same date in 2021. Some 1,125 collisions causing serious injury have also occurred.

Data compiled over the past 12 years indicates that the highest risk time for fatal or serious road traffic collisions during the Christmas period is between 12 noon and 9pm - with over half (55%) of incidents occurring within this timeframe.

Based on the main accident causes, Garda are targeting the four Lifesaver offences this Christmas period: (1) Intoxicated driving (2) Speeding (3) Use of mobile phones (4) Seatbelt offences

From January 1st 2022 to date:

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Using mobile phones is illegal while driving.Using mobile phones is illegal while driving.
Using mobile phones is illegal while driving.

• 156,560 drivers have been detected travelling in excess of a speed limit

• 17,567 drivers detected for using their mobile phone while driving

• 5,664 seatbelt offences were detected

• 7,605 people have been arrested on suspicion of drink/drug driving

Never, ever drink and drive.Never, ever drink and drive.
Never, ever drink and drive.

Inspector Ross O’Doherty of the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau said:

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"The Christmas period is one of the busiest on Ireland’s roads.

"Our operational activity over the past seven days indicates to us that drivers need to be much more mindful of the offences which so often lead to fatal or near fatal road traffic collisions.

"The number of people that have already lost their lives on Irish roads this year is a cause for concern – Gardaí are out on duty everyday enforcing Road Traffic legislation in order to ensure that we do not lose any more lives. Motorists and all road users can help us reduce these stark statistics.”

Radar speed camera and fast car on the roadRadar speed camera and fast car on the road
Radar speed camera and fast car on the road

"Please be mindful of how easily collisions can happen”.

A survey of 1,000 UK van drivers found 9 out of 10 admit to physically checking their smartphones while driving, despite the introduction of legislation in March 2022, banning drivers from using handheld devices under virtually any circumstance.

Almost 90% of van drivers are risking a £200 fine and six penalty points on their licence for using phones behind the wheel, according to a study by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. The manufacturer is urging UK drivers to remember to prioritise safety behind the wheel by going hands-free – even more essential when driving in adverse conditions.

Latest legislation means motorists are now breaking the law if they use a handheld device for any purposes while driving. There is an exemption that allows for contactless payments to be made while the vehicle is stationary, such as at a drive-through, and the use of hands-free devices remains legal while driving, provided that the device is safely secured and positioned.

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Half of van drivers said they were not aware of the specific changes to phone usage laws, which prohibit texting, taking photos, scrolling social media and playlists, or playing games. Worryingly, the other half admitted to knowing, but figures show many are continuing to check devices anyway.

With the current icy conditions playing an additional factor in road safety, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is urging drivers to take extra precautions while driving, always using secure and safely positioned handheld devices, and coming prepared for the poor conditions.

When a journey is essential, the following tips can help drivers to stay safe on the road:

Only set off once there is full visibility inside the vehicle (including windscreen, windows, mirrors and lights)

Reduce speed and leave as much room as possible to the vehicle in front, to account for reduced tyre grip and longer stopping distances

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When going downhill, drive in a lower gear and avoid unnecessary braking

Accelerate, brake, steer, and change gear as slowly and smoothly as possible

If you encounter a skid, turn the wheel in the direction you are sliding in and do not remove your hands from the steering wheel or slam on the brakes

Use dipped headlights when driving in heavy snow

On the positive side, many van drivers have already transitioned to technology to help them do work on the move, with the Volkswagen study finding 96% have access to in-built connectivity, such as Bluetooth, with 75% of van drivers making up to 10 hands-free calls a day.

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