IAM warns of built in distractions in cars

12.00 | 30 April 2015 | | 8 comments

Car manufacturers are building ‘high-tech distractions’ into vehicles and have made them ‘so comfortable they are being turned into living rooms’, according to the IAM.

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, says efforts to reduce distractions for drivers are being undone by the “relentless pace of technology and eagerness of car makers to pack more gadgets onto dashboards”.

The IAM suggests the UK should adopt guidelines suggested by the US Department of Transportation which say drivers should be restricted from using some non-essential technology while the vehicle is in motion, and advise car makers not to introduce technology which takes the driver’s attention off the road for longer than two seconds.

Sarah Sillars said: “While car makers work constantly to incorporate active and passive safety features into vehicles, making us safer than ever before, they are also guilty of making us too comfortable and making us feel more cosseted – like we were in our own living rooms.

“Technology could be a great way of helping to cut the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on our roads. It would be a tragedy if technology became a reason why more, rather than less, people lose their lives.”


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    I too have a touchscreen and built in features in the car that would put a branch of Currys to shame. Most controllable from the steering wheel but there is a temptation to use the screen, which I do fight off. I have no issue with sat nav as the voice duplicates the instruction and in my case the instrument panel gives a simplified image of the satnav screen. Where I think a line needs to be drawn by DfT very quickly is in the use of multi media ‘mirroring’ your smart phone with email and social media to distract. These as my inbuilt DVD should only be available when the car is stationary. Regulation required now please.

    Olly, Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    The IAM are playing the propaganda game. My jag is like a living room, leather arm chair with more variables than a standard recliner, plus heated with cruise control, power steering and automatic. I can, but don’t, drive one finger on the wheel. Oh and it has a great radio and multi cd changer. They are not high tech distractions but it is a living room.

    The IAM are making a statement that high tech distracts and should not be in the car. Correct, but don’t say a car does not have to be comfortable!

    Oh, and the 2CV I also drive is noisy, slow and not as comfortable so it’s like my office without the high tech.

    IAM, don’t mix messages.

    Peter westminster
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    Are we missing the presumption that the IAM are happy with a driver’s vision be taken off the road for up to 2 seconds at a time? I don’t really care that its been apparently adopted in the Americas there is no reason at all why any attention should be taken away from the primary function of driving a motor vehicle on a road.

    May I suggest that those in power within the IAM at least have a sight of a Highway Code. and not, in my view make such irresponsible statements. It’s full of useful information as to what can and cannot and what one must or must not do. They could learn something.

    PS Should a collision occur as a result of someone taking their eye of the road then is it possible they would have a defence as the IAM say that its perfectly ok to do?

    Bob Craven Lancs…Space is Safe Campaigner
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    The sat-nav is a sort of halfway house device that gives us some significant insight to the distraction problem. The four sub-tasks of driving/riding are navigation, prediction, control and negotiation/communication. We navigate either through knowledge in the world (maps, signposts or sat-nav’s) or by knowledge in the head (a learnt route). If you have to use knowledge in the world to navigate i.e you don’t know the route then there will always be a higher distraction factor than if you do know the route.

    The trade-off between distraction and reaching the objective in the optimum time and not being distracted and failing to reach the objective is an easy one to call. Therefore if we don’t know a route then in order to navigate it we must allow ourselves to be distracted. The road-safety industry says that ALL distraction is bad, but they fail to understand that in many cases distraction is essential.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident
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    A control without any form of haptic feedback (a touchscreen is a good example) which requires vision to determine its status is not a very good idea in any situation. Even though vision accounts for over two thirds of our brain it is the somatosensory system that we rely on when manipulating things.

    Touchscreens are of course much cheaper than controls that you twist, turn and push which is why they are proving to be so very popular nowadays. It’s ultimate expression must be the control system for the Tesla electric car which relies entirely on touchscreen technology to operate all of the non-traditional functions.


    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
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    I suspect that a key issue is the increasing use of touch screen controls in place of manual switches. You can learn where a physical switch or button is and then use it without having to look at it but a touch screen demands that you look at it every use. Multiply this by the number of functions now controlled by a touch screen – radio channel, heater, etc and the number of times and accumulating periods of time when the driver has to take their eyes off the road. I am all for technology and refinements that aid the driver but these accumulating demands on the driver need to be considered as a whole not just for each separate function in isolation.

    Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    2 seconds? That’s a good distance at 30 mph as its 90 ft in town driving and who gives 90 ft. 20 or 30 is usual and 210ft at 70 mph on the motorway not the 60 or 70ft given if you are lucky.

    I can remember the days when it was illegal to have anything like a screen in front of the driver. It was limited to a tax disc and a pull down sun visor. Those days are gone. for good, but not for the better I am afraid.

    At two seconds that totally takes up most of the safe space that the Highway Code S. 126 states one should be giving.

    Bob Craven Lancs….Space is Safe Campaigner
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Yes, we need more Morris Minors and Citroen 2cv’s on the roads (mine does 60mpg); cars with choke controls; that are fixable and maintainable by the average owner, and definitely no sat-nav.

    Derek Reynolds, Salop.
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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