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Fresh Concerns over Drivers Distracted by Technology

Fresh concerns have been raised about the part played by mobile technology in road collisions amid new UK government data that points a finger at distracted drivers.

The Reported Road Casualties Annual Report published by the Department of Transport last week said that the most common factor which contributed to accidents in 2014 was drivers failing to look properly.

A total of 194,477 people were killed or injured in UK road traffic accidents in 2014, the first increase since 1997. Worryingly, pedestrians accounted for three quarters of the increase in fatal collisions last year.

Are vulnerable pedestrians being put at risk because of distracted drivers?

In-Car Technology and Driver Distraction

There have been calls for new legislation to regulate the use of driver’s smartphones, in-car entertainment systems, sat-navs and other technological distractions available to today’s drivers.

A joint report by the RAC Foundation and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety raised concerns over the number of “distractions” in modern cars and said that legislation is “not keeping pace with new potential sources of distraction.”

As RAC Foundation Director Steve Gooding said, “Cars have become much safer, but this has predominantly benefited car occupants and today half of fatalities are amongst vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.”

Casualty Reduction Targets

Concern about the increasing use of in-car technology is also a major concern for the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) who have previously described modern cars as “living rooms on wheels.”

In their response to the “worrying” Department of Transport figures, which indicate that "driver behaviour remains the top cause of crashes”, the IAM have urged the UK government to reintroduce road safety targets.

Could the next step be the introduction of distraction guidelines, such as those being phased in throughout the USA? In an effort to combat distracted driving, described as a “deadly epidemic” by the US government, the guidelines recommend that drivers are restricted from using “non-essential digital services” whilst the vehicle is in motion.

As a personal injury solicitor specialising in road traffic accident claims, I’ve seen the devastating injuries that can be caused by distracted driving. The best way that drivers can avoid becoming distracted behind the wheel is, in my opinion, to leave their devices switched off altogether.

Jane Cooper is a Principal Lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK, specialising in road traffic accident claims.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation for people injured in road traffic accidents through no fault of their own. Most of our road traffic compensation claims are dealt with on a No Win No Fee basis, meaning there is no financial risk to you.

Call us on freephone 0800 916 9046, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or contact us online.

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