Is In-Car Infotech A Driving Distraction?

Tue 14th Jul 2020

The Department for Transport has launched a review of roads policing to discover whether the influx of sophisticated entertainment systems is leading to more accidents on the roads.

While many new technologies such as autonomous braking and blind spot assist actually make driving safer, it is believed that the vehicle infotainment may be behind a plateau in the number of road casualties and deaths over the last 10 years.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton is leading the review, with the aim of looking at how the new technologies can influence road safety and policing strategy for the future.

“Safety is our focus but it is recognised that other problems also arise when people do not obey traffic laws,” said the Baroness on behalf of the DfT. “This non-compliance can lead to incidents such as breakdowns and collisions which result in roads being closed or traffic flow being restricted. The consequences of such incidents are delay and disruption as well as an increase in pollution.

“We are exploring how we can better use intelligence to target dangerous behaviours, how technology can assist in enforcing road traffic law now and in the future and also how to better understand the value of enforcement in influencing road user behaviour and the current enforcement capability.”

Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart recently demonstrated that infotainment systems impair reaction times more than alcohol and cannabis use, and have given their backing to the review.

“A reduction in dangerous behaviour on our roads can only be gained by driver education and consistent deployment of roads policing backed-up by the best possible intelligence information. The Covid-19 lockdown has demonstrated that criminality and traffic offences are inextricably linked and the best way to deal with this is by ensuring that the police are resourced properly,” said Rebecca Ashton, head of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart.