RAC Foundation News - November 2016

Drive-safe mode for mobiles?

This week Tomasz Kroker made the headlines for all the wrong reasons following his jailing for ten years for causing death by dangerous driving. He killed four people after ploughing into stationary traffic because he was too busy scrolling through the music playlist on his mobile to concentrate on the road ahead.

This case is extreme in its severity but not unique in its cause. Last year the use of a handheld mobile was a factor in 22 fatal accidents. In-vehicle distraction more generally was a factor in another 61 crashes where a person died.

These figures are likely to be an underestimate because few drivers will admit – and police find it hard to prove – they were looking at the small screen when they hit something or someone.

Ultimately drivers have a legal and moral obligation not to be distracted by the devices they take with them into their cars. But could telecoms and phone companies help them to do the right thing?

New smart phones and tablets come fresh out of the box loaded with apps and other functions, easily activated through on-screen icons. While flight-safe mode comes as standard issue, where is the drive-safe equivalent?

It’s widely recognised that making calls is just one of the dizzying array of functions our smart phones perform for us. They’ve become mobile offices and entertainment centres rolled into one.

But when we’re driving our eyes need to be on the road ahead, and our minds need to focus on the real world through the windscreen, not be scrolling through the virtual world on an electronic device. That’s why the law already prohibits any use of handheld phones and tablets, not just talking on them.

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