01 May Restriction on Use of Mobile Phones while Driving
New regulations which came into effect from 1 May 2014, make it an offence to send or read a text from a mobile phone while driving.
New regulations, signed by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, which came into effect from 1 May 2014, make it an offence to send or read a text from a mobile phone while driving a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place.
The relevant regulation is S.I. 178 of 2014, Road Traffic Act 2006 (Restriction on Use of Mobile Phones) Regulations 2014.
The regulations were introduced to clear up a potential loophole in current legislation. The law wasn’t clear whether it applied to sending a text or searching the web while the phone was in the cradle.
Using a mobile phone with voice control isn’t banned if you don’t have to touch the phone, however, you can still be prosecuted under road traffic legislation if you are deemed to be driving without due care and attention.
An information update posted on the Department of Transport website on 6 May 2014 clarify a number of points:
- The regulations make it an offence to send or read a text message from a hands-free mobile phone while driving a mechanically propelled vehicle. These regulations apply to mobile phones which are not being held, i.e. to hands-free devices. A ‘text message’ in these regulations includes an SMS or MMS message, or an email.
- Legislation already in place makes it an offence to HOLD a mobile phone while driving. Before now, the legislation has not applied to mobile phones NOT being held.
- It is not an offence to speak via a hands-free device. Nor does the legislation make it an offence to touch a button on a hand-free device in order to answer a phone call. They do not apply to Hailo, and other similar Apps, used by taxis.
- The new Regulations are made under section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 2006. Section 3(8) specifies the penalty for offences under that Act, which is a fine not exceeding €2,000 on summary conviction. In the longer term, the offence under these regulations will be brought within the fixed charge offence/penalty point regime. This will require primary legislation, and will be addressed in the next Road Traffic Bill.
- Evidence shows that driver distraction is one of the major risk factors in causing road traffic collisions. Reading text messages, and especially composing text messages, makes drivers take their eyes and minds off the road, and can create serious risks.
- Drivers are advised to be aware of all potential distractions, and not only those prohibited by law. Ultimately, careful driving is the responsibility of each individual when they are in charge of a vehicle.
Download S.I. 178 of 2014
Department of Transport information note on S.I. 178 of 2014
Post updated 6 May to reflect the Information note from the Department of Transport