OVER half of motorists in Co Louth have admitted to breaking the law by using a handheld mobile phone while driving, according to the latest figures published by AA Motor Insurance.
Based on 471 responses from drivers in the Wee County, the AA Motor Insurance report reveals that 56.1 per cent of motorists confessed to using a handheld mobile while behind the wheel.
This is slightly above the national average which saw 54 per cent of motorists admit to the offence, up from 53.8 per cent in 2009. Last year, 1.1 per cent of drivers in Louth said they used their phone daily while driving; however, 43.9 per cent claimed they never used their phone.
Handheld mobile phone usage is the second most common penalty point offence in Ireland after speeding. Motorists in Louth are also more likely to text while driving. According to the survey, 45.5 per cent of motorists in Louth text while driving, compared to the national average of 40.7 per cent.
The figures show 0.2 per cent text daily, 5.1 per cent regularly, 9.5 per cent seldom, 23.9 per cent occasionally and 54.5 per cent never. Meanwhile, 26.7 per cent admitted to surfing the Internet on their smartphone while driving.
Conducted in January 2010, the AA report shows 0.4 per cent looked up the Internet on their smartphone on a daily basis while driving; 1.5 per cent regularly; 1.5 per cent seldom; and 4.6 per cent occasionally.
Over two thirds said they never did so. Texting while driving is slightly more common among female motorists. Inversely, male motorists are more likely to go online via their Smartphone.
“Mobile phones are so small, compact and user friendly these days it’s easy to see where the temptation lies.
“However, research shows that you’re four times more likely to crash your car when on a mobile phone,” said AA Motor Insurance Director John Farrell.
“Dividing your attention between the two tasks will impair your control of your vehicle and reduce your awareness of what is going on around you. When you use a mobile phone while driving you risk the safety of yourself and others.”