Fleets urged to spearhead adoption of drive-safe mode for mobiles
Fleet operators could play a major role in spearheading the use of a drive-safe mode on motorists’ smartphones to cut down on driver distraction. That’s the finding of research carried out by TRL for the RAC Foundation.
According to the RAC Foundation, 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 TRL research was carried out with stakeholders including representatives from vehicle manufacturers, telecoms providers and phone manufacturers to assess possible actions on limiting driver distraction from smartphones as there are currently no internationally accepted guidelines and standards specifically related to the design of mobile phones and communications devices for use while driving.
The research found that ‘Distraction in vehicle’ was not consistently considered to be a priority during the design phase and that it was largely thought to be up to the driver to make sure their use of technology in the car complied with the law.
Participants also said that without a legal obligation on them few companies would incorporate limitations on the use of their equipment as they would be at a commercial disadvantage.
The research also found that demands for technologies such as drive-safe mode could come from fleet and safety managers who are more directly aware of the legal and moral duty to protect their employees and the public
There is a range of apps which drivers can voluntarily download onto their phones to help limit their functionality and hence reduce distraction. Do-not-disturb functions are also available on handsets themselves, although are not specifically related to driving.
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.”