Luas operator Transdev has warned that near misses with pedestrians are on the rise, blaming phones for distracting people.

The company has said that Luas drivers have noticed growing numbers of pedestrians who walk with earphones in and their heads down looking at their phones.

Drivers say distracted pedestrians stepping out in front of oncoming trams is a common experience.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Transdev Communications Manager Dervla Brophy said it appears more people are doing this now compared to last year.

Drivers have had to use emergency brakes 223 times so far this year to avoid hitting pedestrians. The figure for the whole of last year was 203.

There have been a small number of collisions with pedestrians this year, Ms Brophy said, adding that the number of incidents is "20 or under".

However, she said that one incident is one incident too many.

Transdev says "Luas Drivers have an excellent safety record and are trained in defensive driving. They are trained to anticipate this type of behaviour. When it happens, the driver applies the emergency brake, the tram stops and the distracted pedestrian, while startled, runs away.

"But on occasion it is more serious, and a pedestrian is taken to hospital with a serious injury."