Voice-activated texting to be exempt from tough new laws for Irish drivers

7 Oct 2013

Smartphone owners who use technologies like Apple’s Siri on their iPhones may be relieved to learn they may be exempt from tough new motoring laws due to be introduced in Ireland, where motorists will face tougher fines and penalties if they’re caught texting on their phones.

Under current measures, if stopped by gardai, smartphone users are pointing to their hands-free kits and escaping prosecution.

The new laws aim to clarify many of the grey areas and loopholes.

The new tightened-up laws will see on-the-spot fines of €60 imposed and three penalty points for a motorist caught texting and driving. If the fine is unpaid, the motorist can be taken to court where a maximum penalty of €1,000 for a first offence can be imposed. Subsequent offences within a 12-month period could result in a prison sentence.

It is expected that the new regulations will be issued next year after the Road Traffic Bill of 2013 is enacted.

In the US, drunk driving has been replaced by texting while driving as the leading cause of teenagers’ death in the US, according to a study by the Cohen Children’s Medical Centre in New York.

Also in the US, Florida recently became the 41st state to ban texting while driving.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years