Written answers

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Road Safety

Photo of Sandra McLellanSandra McLellan (Cork East, Sinn Fein)
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207. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if new legislation regarding mobile phones includes penalties for simply holding your phone in your hand while driving; the reason this would be any different to holding a cup or anything else; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26473/14]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Minister, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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It has been illegal to hold a mobile phone since the passage and commencement of the Road Traffic Act 2006. Separately, as the Deputy will be aware, it is  an offence under the Road Acts to drive without due care or regard or to drive dangerously. A person who is observed driving dangerously as a result of their cup holding would be liable for prosecution under those provisions.

However while individuals may engage in such activity, it is not a major issue for road safety requiring a specific action. Mobile phone usage is. It is unlikely that a person is going to be holding a mobile phone if they do not intend to use it. Therefore to ensure that there was a clearly understandable and easily enforceable provision in legislation to stop this form of distraction, this particular requirement was introduced. It is unlikely that someone would be making or receiving a call, texting or browsing the internet through their cup.

 The new regulations further restrict the use of mobile phones while driving with the emphasis specifically on the prohibition of texting while driving.  The regulations close a loophole which may have permitted motorists to send a text message if a phone was held in a cradle within the car and prohibits the sending of an SMS or MMS message, or an email. 

I do not intend to bring in a specific offence of cup holding but in the interests of safety, the Deputy is advised not to hold a cup while driving.


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