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The Road Safety Authority, Gaelic Players Association and Women’s Gaelic Players Association launch road safety partnership

gpa 09.08.2019

The Road Safety Authority (RSA), Gaelic Players Association (GPA) and Women's Gaelic Players Association (WGPA) today announced a three-year collaboration to promote road safety awareness. Initially focusing on reducing the incidences of two killer behaviours on Irish roads – using a mobile phone while driving and driver fatigue, together the three organisations hope to help drive behavioural change amongst a younger cohort of road users. 

The first phase of the campaign which was launched today in Croke Park, will encourage younger road users to put their mobile phones away while driving and focus all their attention on the road. RSA research shows that using a mobile phone behind the wheel makes you four times more likely to crash. The offence of holding a mobile phone while driving is the second highest reason for a driver to receive penalty points, after speeding.

The organisations are urging drivers, ahead of the GAA All Ireland semi-finals this weekend, to put their mobile phones away while driving and concentrate their attention on the task at hand.

At today’s launch in Croke Park, Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, RSA said: “In collaboration with the GPA and WGPA, we want to support road-users in embracing positive behaviours on our roads. Driver distraction plays a role in 20-30% of all road collisions in Ireland, and the biggest distraction for drivers is mobile phone use. Today mobile phones demand more and more of our attention and through our collaboration with the GPA and WGPA we want to stress the importance of putting your phone away while driving. We want to remind people of the critical importance of keeping your mind wholly focused on the road and the RSA would like to thank the GPA and WGPA for helping us spread our road safety message.”

Also speaking at today’s event, Paul Flynn, Chief Executive, GPA said: “The GPA has three core pillars; Player Welfare, Player Development and Player Representation. Under Representation promoting our players and players supporting societal issues are key objectives. 

Throughout this three-year collaboration, GPA and WGPA members are working together, with an aim to support the RSA’s endeavours in promoting positive driving behaviours. Over the course of these campaigns if we play a small role in promoting safe driving and in return potentially saving lives, it will be a great success. 

Maria Kinsella Chairperson, Women's Gaelic Players Association WGPA said: "We are delighted to be part of this road safety collaboration with the RSA and GPA. Our members spend a significant amount of time travelling to and from training and games representing their counties and clubs. We are committed to promoting road safety awareness through this collaboration. We want to ensure all our members; their families and supporters stay safe on our roads".    

The second phase of the campaign will take place later this year focusing on creating awareness of the dangers of driver fatigue. An ESRI research report from last year illustrated the time commitments required to play senior inter-county GAA and the impact this has on players’ lives, including their sleep. All motorists suffering from a sleep debt are at risk of ‘nodding off’ whilst driving and substantially increasing their risk of being involved in a crash. It is estimated that driver fatigue is a contributory factor in as many as 1 in 5 driver deaths in Ireland every year. Furthermore, tiredness-related collisions are 3 times more likely to be fatal or result in a serious injury because of the high impact speed and lack of avoiding action. 


Mobile phones distract a driver in several ways:


  • Physically: instead of focusing on the physical tasks required by driving (e.g. steering or gear changing), drivers have to use one or both of their hands to manipulate the phone.
  • Visually: mobile phones could visually distract drivers in two ways:

Firstly, drivers have to move their eyes from the road and focus on the mobile phone in order to be able to use it.

Secondly, while talking on a mobile phone, even if drivers’ eyes are focused on the road, they 'look but do not see'.

  • Auditory: the focus of drivers' attention moves from the road environment to the sounds of the mobile phone and the conversation. This particularly applies when the sound quality is poor.
  • Cognitively: instead of focusing their attention and thoughts on driving, drivers divert their attention and focus on the topic of the phone conversation (Dragutinovic & Twisk, 2005).