Technology not

always the answer

IN-CAR technology has a great many important uses - delivering efficiency, reducing the chances of a collision, protecting the driver, providing comfort and aiding navigation are a few but it's not the answer for everything.

Mobile phone use while driving is a good example.

The hand-held operation of a mobile is obviously illegal, and at least two recent simulator studies show that average reaction times after drinking to the legal limit are still lower than whilst talking on a mobile.

Of course texting while driving has an even greater impact on safety as average reaction times jump by two seconds, as does the tendency to tailgate and drift around between lanes.

Technology is emerging to help - in the USA a smart steering wheel will be introduced this year, providing a constant read-out of whether two hands are on the wheel and importantly whether hands are ‘adjacent' (coming together at the top of the wheel in a classic position used by drivers to thumb text).

The output can set off an alarm, be stored in the vehicle or transmitted via telematics which you would expect to provide a deterrent to drivers.

However, academic research suggests that education is a more powerful tool than fines or distraction technologies and I have to agree.

Don't get me wrong, those two things are still important and have a role to play.

If a driver is intent on making a call or texting they probably will. I've been on some really powerful sessions, courtesy of our own driver safety programme here at Arval, and they can have a big effect.

From time to time, understanding the potentially devastating impact of poor driving decisions is a great wake up call. People die, or incur life-changing injuries, all the time on our roads and it's rarely because of technology.

Mind-set and behaviour are key and while technology can help, the buck must always stop with the driver.

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