Government and vehicle manufacturers should enforce greater education and familiarisation of new in-car technology before drivers leave the forecourts or take delivery of their new vehicle, claims IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s largest independent road-safety charity.
Its urgent call coincides with the arrival of the new 70 registration plate on 1st September which could give car dealers a welcome boost in sales as motorists search for the latest models with the new number plate.
And while most new in-car systems, including infotainment and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems – commonly known as ADAS – are designed to increase road safety, they need to be used correctly, reminds IAM RoadSmart.
Data from research commissioned by the road safety charity earlier this year revealed that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto significantly affect reaction times and increase stopping distances.
Disturbingly, the research shows that these systems can impair reaction times behind the wheel more than alcohol and cannabis use.
In fact, stopping distances, lane control and response to external stimuli were all negatively affected by the use of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Furthermore, the reaction times of drivers tested was significantly slower at motorway speeds than someone who had used cannabis and five times worse than someone driving at the legal limit of alcohol consumption.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s Director of Policy and Research, said: “Now is the perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of correctly using the latest in-car technology with the arrival of the new registration plate on 1st September.
“Swiping a screen is replacing the turn of a button or dial so it is vital that car dealers educate motorists on how to correctly use these new systems, so that they are a safety benefit and not a potentially dangerous distraction.”
Other findings from the IAM RoadSmart commissioned research found that using in-car touch screens resulted in reaction times that were even worse than texting while driving.
Neil said: “Driver distraction is estimated to be a factor in around a third of all road collisions in Europe each year.
“As the amount of in-car infotainment and ADAS features continues to increase, we believe car dealers have a responsibility to correctly educate their customers and ensure they are familiar with all the high-tech systems in their shiny new purchase before they leave the forecourt. It is also imperative that the Government and the vehicle manufacturers enforce and support this.
“We’re calling on industry and Government to openly test and approve such systems and develop consistent standards that genuinely help minimise driver distraction.
“Whether you’re buying a new car now or already own a vehicle with technology that is new to you, it is vital that you use it safely. Anything that distracts a driver’s eye or mind from the road is bad news for road safety.”
To find out more about the study commissioned earlier this year click here.