Research by Ipsos MORI for the RAC Foundation has found that over half of all drivers would be happy to use a ‘vehicle safe mode’ on their mobile phones and other in-car electronics, to avoid distraction from the road. The connected nature of the modern world can make it hard to switch off the phone and focus on the road but it is highly dangerous to have any distracting devices nearby when you’re in the driving seat. Technology can be used positively in vehicles but it can also be a leading source of driver-distraction.
This new survey carried out for the RAC Foundation shows that the British public, with both driver and non-drivers questioned, understand and accept that technology can be hazardous and potentially harmful as well as helpful. 69% of all who took part in the survey stated that they see information received from outside the car as a potential distraction to safe driving and 60% also stated that would be happy to use a ‘vehicle safe mode’ preventing their devices and systems from doing anything which would distract them from the road.
The same group of people were also asked about connected technology and were asked to select from a list of features and pinpoint which would be an important consideration when buying a car. The top choices for this part of the survey were: information about the condition of the car then traffic and congestion alert information and then sat nav systems. Perhaps surprisingly 9% of the people questioned considered online gaming as important although this factor did come bottom of the list.
As a general rule the majority of people believe that technology makes life better, with 77% of people questioned in this survey saying so and 61% also expressed an interest in connected driving technologies. There is a clear appetite for technology out there but the key is finding a way of incorporating it into the driving experience so that it doesn’t become a hindrance rather than a help.
Speaking on behalf of the RAC Foundation, director Steve Gooding commented that: ‘“On aircraft there is often a requirement that phones be put in ‘flight safe’ mode so they don’t interfere with a plane’s systems. Now this survey tells us the majority of motorists would back a ‘car safe’ mode to prevent mobiles interfering with a driver’s concentration.’
Gooding also expressed concern at nearly one in ten expressing an interest in online gaming as a connected driving feature but suggested this may be to keep children occupied on long journeys rather than something to consider themselves when driving.
Mobile phones are a considerable distraction whilst at the wheel and it is of course illegal to use a handheld mobile in any way whilst driving but if more could be done with technology to remove the temptation, the roads may be even safer.