Are You Driven To Distraction?

Fri 3rd Dec 2021

The tough new rules on smartphone use in cars this week closed a long-standing loophole for motorists who had been using their phones for messaging, searching the web and scrolling through tunes. But the new laws seem out of pace with the ever-increasing influx of screen technology already employed in vehicles.

But road safety charities and organisations together believe that more needs to be done to make the use of technology work in harmony with keeping drivers and pedestrians safe.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) claimed in a 2019 report that ‘distraction inside vehicle’ contributed to 2,563 in that year, including 65 fatalities. And the charity argues that a ban on touching mobile phones alone is not enough and that even having a phone conversation can be dangerous, and that infotainment systems are also a problem.

“While these can be handy for the driver, allowing them to carry out many tasks, they could also be a distraction,” the Rospa report said.

“People often do not realise when they are cognitively distracted, such as during a mobile phone conversation. Rather than scanning for hazards, they spend more time staring ahead than usual, leading to tunnel vision.”

While driver distractions from infotainment systems and phones are seen as a leading cause, there are a number of other potential issues for us to deal with while driving, such as confusing signs, too many signs and passenger distraction too. It’s quite clear that as all these add up, the last things a motor manufacturer needs to do is add more noise to the mix.

“Handheld phone messages may be illegal but there are many more potential distractions,” said Edmund King from the AA. “Drivers can easily be distracted by in-car messages. The problem comes when there are too many to digest and this leads to information overload and mistakes.”