Call for "Drive Safe" smartphones
You've heard of “Airplane Mode” or the “Flight Safe” setting but now there's a call for smartphone makers to add a “Drive Safe” mode feature to help reduce the number of road fatalities.
The RAC Foundation said that at least 70 road deaths in Britain each year were attributed to “distraction in vehicle” with 20 of these involving drivers using a mobile phone.
The motoring group said motorists should be responsible for using the setting, rather than it being automated.
The latest results from the UK Department for Transport report that of 88 distracted-driver deaths in 2015, 17 involved mobile phone use.
That doesn't come as much of a surprise, with a study across England and Scotland observing 1.6 per cent of all drivers spotted using a hand-held device behind the wheel.
A more worrying statistic is the number of parents who say they check their phone while they're driving — according to leasing firm OSV, 21 per cent of mums and dads have used their device when the kids are in the back seats.
But what's being done in the UK to restrict the illegal use of smartphones behind the wheel?
To find out, the RAC Foundation commissioned surveys and interviews with a range of experts — including representatives from vehicle manufacturers, telecoms providers and phone manufacturers — to gauge what the industry is doing to limit the use of potentially distracting technology in the car.
The group found that, despite a great deal of thought going into the design of built-in equipment and dashboard layout, when it comes to products such as smartphones, there's little design consideration given to distracting impact behind the whee.
Those surveyed also said it was up to the driver to make sure the use of the technology complied with the law while driving and few companies would incorporate limitations for their use in cars without a legal obligation.
But despite there being no internationally accepted guidelines and standards specifically related to the design of mobile phones and other communication devices for use while driving, many believed that fleet and safety managers could force phone-makers to introduce some form of driving-safe mode to meet legal and moral duties to protect employees and the public.
Steve Gooding, director of the motoring association, said: “The more functionality our cars and electronic devices have, the greater chance drivers will get overwhelmed with information, particularly when using smartphones as Sat Navs when 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.”
Insurer Aviva also found that two in five drivers admit to using a phone when driving, though the best way to cut usage behind the wheel was through education.
“The vast majority of people will agree that driving and using a mobile phone is dangerous and wrong, yet more than 40 per cent of drivers admit it’s something they still do from time to time,” Aviva director Peter Markey said.