Most Drivers View In-Car Tech as ‘Distraction’

Most UK drivers think the burgeoning amount of in-cabin technology is creating distractions bordering on the dangerous.

That’s the finding of a survey held in response to moves by the government’s Department of Transport (DfT) of a review of roads policing on safety asking for evidence on in-car technology and its affect on the vehicle accident rates. The survey carried out by Venson Automotive Solutions suggests that while only 13% of motorists admit to being side-tracked themselves by in-car technology when driving, 68% said they had noticed an increase in other drivers being distracted by dashboard controls or using their mobile phones.

Of those surveyed, 38% said they used hands-free/Bluetooth in-car technology for making phone calls while driving, however, when it comes to using their phone for navigation, nearly a fifth admitted to balancing the “phone somewhere to keep an eye on it”, such as a cup holder. Businesses and fleet managers are recommended to impress on drivers the dangers of being distracted by their in-car tech and ensure robust processes are in place to meet their duty of care obligations.

Drivers currently risk six penalty points on their licence and a £200 ($257) fine if they use a hand-held phone when driving. For motorists who passed their driving test within two years of being caught will automatically lose their licence and have to reapply and pay for a new provisional licence, passing both theory and practical parts of the driving test again, to get a full licence.

Yet, the survey also showed drivers’ appetite for more advanced in-car tech is growing with  67% saying they would use a dashboard sat-nav if it were available in their car and nearly 50% of people surveyed said that they would like to have an emergency call button in their car in case of being involved in a road accident.

An app which informs the driver about the health of their vehicle’s tires would also be welcomed by 48% of people and 43% would make use of driver assistance technology such as cruise control, lane departure detection and speed limit exceeded notifications.  In contrast only 26% of people surveyed said they would like to see entertainment or lifestyle dashboard technology such as apps that play music or offer concierge services.

Simon Staton, client management director at Venson, said: “The advances made in in-car technology have moved on very quickly and, as they become standard in new vehicles, the scope for driver distraction also grows. We look forward to the results and recommendations from the DfT review and would encourage businesses and fleet managers to get involved in the consultation process.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


2 comments

  1. Avatar Peter 3rd August 2020 @ 5:55 pm

    I drive an old banger but I’ve hired a few new cars lately and I was surprised how busy I was with the navigation screen and how the over-automated heating controls seemed to have a mind of their own. Of course, you would get more nimble with them as an actual owner but you still need to be quite dexterous to hit some screen buttons – that implies more time looking inside than outside. Though, I probably shouldn’t have been adjusting the nav at all when moving.

  2. Avatar Rebecca Ashton 4th August 2020 @ 10:02 am

    We also did some research into infotainment and the findings were rather worrying. As a result of our recent research findings, IAM RoadSmart have called on industry and government to openly test and approve all infotainment systems and develop consistent standards that will help minimise driver distraction. If you would like to view the findings here is the link
    https://www.iamroadsmart.com/campaign-pages/end-customer-campaigns/infotainment

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