Manufacturers ‘must come up with answer’ to mobile phone problem: IAM RoadSmart

12.00 | 6 January 2017 | | 5 comments

IAM RoadSmart is calling for car makers and smartphone manufacturers to work with the Government to develop a technological solution to address the problem of distracted drivers.

In a press release issued yesterday (5 Jan), the road safety charity says simply hoping drivers will ‘do the right thing’ when it comes to using a mobile phone is ‘not enough’.

IAM RoadSmart is advocating a ‘carrot or stick’ approach in which companies are offered incentives to ensure their employees use signal blocking apps, and drivers face consequences if the app is not switched at the time of a crash.

Last month, it was widely reported that the DfT is considering new technology that would block a mobile signal in a moving vehicle, preventing users from making calls and sending and retrieving texts and emails.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “It isn’t enough for the providers of this technology to simply say ‘it is up to the individual’.

“Every phone in use today already comes with a driving mode that can cut out calls, but they are very rarely used. This would suggest that ‘carrots or sticks’ may be needed to actually get people to use any new approach.

“Carrots could come in the form of incentives for companies to fit new apps or to ensure their employees switch off on the go. For example, no government contracts unless you have a ‘no mobile phone use’ policy in place

“Sticks could come in the form of new penalties, but also links to insurance so your level of cover is reduced if you don’t have the new app switched on when you have a crash.”

Talking about the required technology, Neil Greig added: “The actual detail of the new technology will have to be worked out.

“But with accurate GPS and more sensitive movement sensors in most phones, it should be possible to target the driver’s phone whilst still allowing the ever growing range of connected car services such as sat-nav and traffic/tourist information.”

Want to know more about mobile phones and road safety? 
Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre 
Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory


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    I see the report says “Every phone in use today already comes with a driving mode that can cut out calls”. I have an iPhone 6 and haven’t seen this feature on it. Anyone know where I might find it? Obviously I’ve done a search in settings:)

    Philip Jersey
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    It is sometimes necessary to dial 999 whilst on the move and as far as I know, this can be an exemption from prosecution – has this scenario been considered? It’s always a pity when extra measures are needed i.e. laws and technology – to stop people doing what their commonsense and sense of responsibility should tell them not to do in the first place.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    You’re going to need more than just movement sensing technology and a signal blocking on cars for this idea to work. The technology that is required needs to block calls to the driver’s phone but allow passengers phones to receive and make calls in the same vehicle. Drivers are supposed to abide by all the other rules of the road and driver behaviour and I don’t see extra technology being suggested to curb poor decision and judgements by drivers.

    Colin Brown
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    Technology alone will never work to stop the use of mobile phones when driving. Unless there is a blanket technology to stop all phones when mobile being use. What Government will pass that legislation and risk losing revenue? Technology will not be able to discriminate between driver and passenger in the many forms of transport.

    As for companies being forced to have apps on phones that stop phones being used when mobile by being switched on, we have delivered driver training for the last 30 plus years, very few employees only have a company phone. Their private phone is the primary problem not the company phone.

    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Drivers are expected to “do the right thing” in all other aspects of driving: speed choice, traffic light compliance, road marking compliance, blood-alcohol level, tiredness, … Why is mobile phone use suddenly such a big issue? Is there evidence that mobile phone use is a significant cause (yes evidence of *cause*, not just of correlation or hearsay) of collisions?

    Charles, England
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