The Road Safety Authority has said it is deeply concerned at the rise in smartphone use while driving.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, RSA Chief Executive Moyagh Murdoch, said garda detections of mobile phone use while driving was up 16% this year.

"It is a very worrying trend and something that we need to tackle now before it becomes an epidemic.

“Like drink driving the role of the Road Safety Authority is to change attitudes and behaviour and we've seen that happen in terms of drink driving so we need to see the same sea change in the attitude towards using a mobile phone while driving."

191 people have been killed on the country's roads so far this year; one more than was killed in 2013.

Ms Murdoch said the number of drivers who had lost their lives was down but driver behaviour towards other road users had not improved.

She said there had been an increase in the number of vulnerable road users being killed, with a 240% increase in the numbers of cyclists who died.

Ms Murdoch said cycling had become much more popular and the good weather during the last two summers had brought more people outdoors and onto the roads.