In-car distractions are causing hundreds of deaths and serious injuries every year, according to official Government figures.
An analysis of Department for Transport stats shows there were 88 deaths and 614 serious injuries caused by in-car distractions, an 11 per cent increase over the course of the last decade.
Road safety campaigners have ascribed this worrying increase to the rise of in-car technology systems and drivers being distracted by mobile phones. A research paper by IAM Roadsmart (formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists) highlights that “with the steady rise of new, potentially-distracting in-car technology being added to vehicles on an almost daily basis by manufacturers…it seems intuitive that the situation is indeed worsening.”
The number of deaths related to mobile phone use behind the wheel rose from 27 in 2007 to 43 in 2017 – a 59 per cent increase – while serious injuries went up 39 per cent over the course of the decade, from 97 to 135.
According to IAM Roadsmart, 29 per cent of in-car distractions are caused by children, 27 per cent by changing the radio channel, 26 per cent by backseat drivers, 24 per cent by mobile phone calls and 15 per cent by sat-nav systems.
Distracted drivers are a worldwide problem, too, with figures from the European Commission suggesting that between 10 and 30 per cent of collisions in Europe are caused by road user distraction, while US Department for Transportation statistics from 2015 showed 3,477 people died that year in the country due to a driver being distracted by a mobile phone.
Back in 2017, a joint investigation by IAM Roadsmart and Auto Express found programming a sat-nav was the worst distraction for drivers. This was followed by the head of Highways England last year questioning the safety of in-car infotainment screens.
Tony Greenidge, business development director at IAM RoadSmart, commented: “Our white paper shows that with increasing the sophistication of in car technology there is an unintended consequence that requires drivers – typically in real time – to decide how to best process and utilise the information provided.”
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