Dashing off a quick text, programming the sat nav, reading an urgent newsflash: today the distraction of smartphones and other technology has become a greater safety risk than drinking and driving. A new traffic safety study has shown that 74 percent of respondents feel distracted by the on-board technology in their vehicles.

For this representative study, the Allianz Center for Technology (AZT), the research institute Mensch-Verkehr-Umwelt (MVU) and Makam Research questioned 1600 drivers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. According to the results, 58 percent of study participants control the car radio through the on-board menu rather than the remote control buttons on the steering wheel, 39 percent programme their sat nav whilst driving.

Another interesting fact: 60 percent of the drivers who had been involved in an accident in the last three years use their smartphones while driving, but only 37 percent of accident-free drivers. The study found that of the 3500 people who died on German roads in 2015, 350 of them – so every tenth person – died due to being distracted. Alcohol-related accidents resulted in 256 deaths.

Smartphones kill

“Drinking and driving used to be a trivial offence. It was not morally condemnable to drive a car after drinking a few glasses of wine,” says Mathias Scheuber, Chairman of the Allianz Compensation Board. Today it is no longer socially acceptable and society has to reach that same conclusion for using a smartphone at the wheel. “There is no customary law on distraction. Our study shows that smartphones kill.”

The results prove the urgency of the AZT’s demand that distraction be added to the list of causes in official accident statistics and that road traffic legislation be altered to reflect current communication technology. Although the legal regulations are already clear, the insurance company feels they do not go far enough. Car manufacturers should also be required firstly to block the programming of sat nav systems and secondly Internet access via the on-board computer whilst driving. In addition emergency braking assist systems should be fitted as standard in all new cars. “Studies have shown that if every vehicle had such technology, more than a third of rear-end collisions could be avoided or their severity reduced,” say the Allianz accident researchers.

Source: Driving news