I reckon that it’s fair to say just about everyone reading this article has used their phone illegally while driving. Of course there was once a time when we could go about our merry way gas bagging on the phone whilst driving. But obviously back then phones were so basic, now they’re a gateway to our entire lives.
A study conducted by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) shows 70 per cent of us would be willing to use an app that blocked texting and browsing altogether. But drivers would only concede to such technology if they could still preform hands-free calls and stream music via Bluetooth.
QUT’s Centre for Accident and Research and Road Safety-Queensland asked 712 drivers for their opinion as part of a national study into these kind of voluntary apps. However Study leader Dr Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios said only 37 per cent were prepared to block calls completely.
Thankfully the survey found most drivers stuck to hands-free conversations. But 17 per cent admitted to performing tasks that involved touching the phone, such as texting, browsing and emailing.
There’s also a group of people that fall into a category that’s just as dangerous. 19 per cent reported monitoring or reading conversations without writing back, a process that involves a period of time when your eyes are not on the road.
Study Leader Dr Oviedo-Trespalacios, said: “Mobile phone use is so ingrained in our society that completely stopping people from using their phones while driving is an extremely difficult task,”
“Using voluntary apps that restrict some phone functions is emerging as a practical new countermeasure to limit distracted driving.
“Existing studies have shown that mobile phone use behind the wheel is a significant contributor to road trauma. Police crash reports in the USA have estimated that phone distraction contributes to 18 per cent of fatal crashes.”
Now I’m sure you’re already saying to yourself “But these apps already exist”. Well the study went on to show that only 40 per cent of drivers surveyed had heard about such apps. Just 10 per cent said they had already tried them.
The most common app used was the Apple iPhone’s Do Not Disturb While Driving mide, with just a handful of people also using Android Auto, Waze, Truemotion Family, RoadMode or even a vehicles interface itself to help curb the temptation.
“Overall, our study found that familiarity and actual use of these types of apps was low, which means a lot more work is needed increase public knowledge and acceptance of these technologies,”
“The good news is that once drivers learned about these apps, there was a willingness to use them.
“But for the apps to gain acceptance, it’s important that they retain hands-free calling and music functions, while still limiting the most dangerous actions – actually touching the phone to text, email and scroll.
“I would also advocate an opt-out system, rather than opt-in, for pre-installed driver safety apps on phones as this would encourage greater use.” Dr Oviedo-Trespalacios added.
I don’t think we will ever see the day when people agree to blocking incoming calls, but as for anything that blocks the temptation to use a smart phone other than for music and calls I say bring it on.