Should manufacturers do more to prevent driver distraction?
The RAC Foundation has questioned whether car manufacturers need to take more responsibility when it comes to preventing driver distraction.
The call comes on the back of new research which suggests that without legal obligation, few companies would incorporate limitations on the use of their equipment as they would be at a commercial disadvantage.
Carried out for the RAC Foundation by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), the study set out to gauge what industry is doing to limit the use of potentially distracting technology in the car.
The research features the views of vehicle manufacturers, telecoms providers and phone manufacturers, and concludes that it is up to the driver to make sure their use of technology in the car complies with the law.
Each year at least 70 fatal accidents on Britain’s roads have ‘distraction in vehicle’ as a contributory factor. ‘Driver using mobile phone’ is a factor in some 20 fatal accidents a year.
The RAC Foundation says there do not appear to be any internationally accepted guidelines and standards specifically relating to the design of mobile phones and communications devices for use while driving.
It asks whether now is the time to introduce a drive-safe mode for mobiles.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “In many ways smartphone technology and mobile communications are a Godsend for road users, allowing us to do everything from getting directions to dodging congestion to calling for help if we break down.
“Yet the more functionality our cars and electronic devices have, the greater the chance that drivers get distracted or overwhelmed with information, particularly when using smartphones as Sat Navs while all the other functions are still ‘live’.
“A key question is where responsibility lies. Many in the industry say the onus must be on the user rather than the manufacturer.
“There may come a day when autonomous cars allow us to spend all our time looking at our mobile, tablet and computer screens. Until then as drivers we need to make sure we have our eyes on the road.”