Businesses are being encouraged to ‘urgently’ tackle the issue of distracted drivers – and to overhaul their road safety policies.
In a new white paper, titled ‘Driving While Distracted: Challenges and Solutions’, IAM RoadSmart points to DfT figures showing in 2017 there were 4,639 casualties caused by in-vehicle distractions.
Published on 12 February, the paper examines the reasons why ‘so many motorists’ minds wander while driving’, and what can be done to reverse this ‘shocking trend’.
The paper says driver distraction can take four forms: mental, visual, manual and through sound – and in today’s world, some of these can combine to make the problem ‘significantly worse’.
The growing trend of ‘nomophobia’ – the fear of being out of mobile phone contact – is particularly prevalent among business drivers according to IAM RoadSmart, but employers can avoid it through ‘consistent application of a mobile phone policy among their drivers’.
The report concludes it is ‘imperative’ that fleet managers – and their bosses – take a ‘fresh look at professional driver training, to ensure that their employees reach the very highest standards’.
The paper quotes Dr Graham Hole from Sussex University, who believes that the ‘worst of all worlds’ is semi-autonomous driving, referencing the advent of DAS (Driver Assistance Systems), saying that ‘humans are rubbish at being vigilant.’
Dr Hole adds that cars need to keep drivers engaged to avoid them switching off during the journey.
The report says the ‘ideal solution’ – the fully autonomous car – is still some way off.
Tony Greenidge, IAM RoadSmart, said: “With increasing the sophistication of in car technology there is an unintended consequence that requires drivers – typically in real time – to decide how to best process and utilise the information provided.
“Employers have a key role to play by ensuring that their travel and mobility policies allow drivers to take full advantage of technology – but in a way that is both safe and legal.”