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Roads policing review to explore distraction from in-car tech

The Department for Transport is launching a review into roads policing to explore ways of reducing road casualties and deaths after a plateau in recent years.

The call for evidence says advances in vehicle infotainment systems and mobile phone technology have caused an increase in sources of distraction for drivers

The review has been instituted by the DfT, alongside the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs’ Council and other agencies, and will look at why the number of road casualties has plateaued since 2010.

Prior to this date, the UK had seen year-on-year reductions in the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads. Since then, further reductions in the number of casualties have not been achieved.

The review includes a call for evidence, led by transport minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton and looking at 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.

The call for evidence asks for views on in-car technology and how this could be increasing accident risks alongside reducing them. The DfT points out that while the growing number of driver assistance systems, such as autonomous braking and blind spot assist, have improved road safety, at the same time the advances in vehicle infotainment systems and mobile phone technology have caused an increase in sources of distraction for drivers.

And this is set against a background of increasing traffic volumes leading to the economic and environmental threats posed by the ever-present threat of increasing congestion.

“Safety is our focus but it is recognised that other problems also arise when people do not obey traffic laws. 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,” said Baroness Vere of Norbiton, Parliamentary under secretary of State.

The call for a review has been welcomed by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart, which earlier this year shared research that concluded that the latest vehicle infotainment systems impair reaction times behind the wheel more than alcohol and cannabis use.

Rebecca Ashton, head of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart said: “IAM RoadSmart strongly welcomes a review of the effectiveness of roads policing in the UK. Our annual Safety Culture Report shows strong support for the enforcement of traffic laws with drink and drug driving in the number one spot.

“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.

“In our view, making roads policing a Home Office priority and a key performance indicator for chief constables and police commissioners, combined with greater emphasis on driver education, would be the most effective ways to achieve this.”

The call for evidence will run until 5 October 2020. For more details, click here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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