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clamp down Over 22,000 drivers hit with penalty points for holding phone while driving

There were 224,000 penalty point notices issued to almost 22,500 drivers last year, which is an eight per cent increase on 2020

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Speaking on the phone while driving will get you penalty points

Speaking on the phone while driving will get you penalty points

Speaking on the phone while driving will get you penalty points

More than 22,000 drivers got penalty points for holding a mobile phone while driving last year, new figures reveal.

There were 224,000 penalty point notices issued to almost 22,500 drivers last year, which is an eight per cent increase on 2020.

According to Freedom of Information files released to Newstalk that is nearly 27,000 more than the 22,485 penalty point notices issued for the offence last year,

Under current road legislation, holding a mobile phone while driving carries a penalty of at least three penalty points.

Five counties - Cork, Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wexford- saw more than 1,000 penalty point notices issued for the offence last year.

Road Safety Authority spokesman Brian Farrell told Newstalk, gardaí are clamping down on the offence.

“One in four admit to checking their mobile phone notifications while driving,” he said.

“About one-in-five are saying they are checking their mobile phone for social media and about 12% are saying they check it for emails or to write back to texts.

“So, it is definitely something people are doing whole out there while driving.”

Meanwhile, around 5,755 penalty point notices were issued to unaccompanied learner drivers last year.

It marks a 35% rise on 2020.

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Mr Farrell said Gardaí are cracking down on learners without a fully qualified driver in the car with them.

“In addition to those penalty point that have been issue, gardai have seized over 9,500 vehicles since this law was introduced in 2018,” he said.

“So, again, learner drivers need to understand that the Gardaí are out there enforcing the law.”

A total of 10,996 drivers were disqualified from driving last year - either as a result of getting 12 penalty points or getting disqualified in court.

That's over 2,600 more than the previous year.

Gardaí are today conducting ‘National Slow Down Day’ on Irish roads with a range of high visibility actions – including checkpoints and 1,300 speed enforcement zones across the country.

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