Despite Ban, Phone Use by Drivers Continues

Results of a new survey that found that more than half of U.K. motorists admit to checking their phones while driving has given rise to louder calls for drivers to embrace speech technology to improve safety.

The survey, conducted by the RAC, found that 53 percent of drivers admit to checking who a call or text is from, 21 percent are likely to check a social media alert while driving and the number who admit to texting at the wheel has increased from 11 percent to 31 percent.  Despite the change in the law regarding phone use while driving seven years ago, these results suggest that the need for constant connectivity and communication is becoming more important to drivers than their safety.

The RAC warned that taking your eyes off the road, even for just a second, to check your mobile phone can have potentially fatal results. The RAC also suggested that the increased use of phones at the wheel is related to the increasing popularity of smartphones.

Martin Reber, CEO of embedded speech technology vendor SVOX, agrees. “The desire for people to keep in touch and up to date is ever increasing, and drivers no longer accept their car as a white spot of connectivity,” he wrote in an email. “The technology to encourage this is becoming more and more mainstream as the popularity of smartphones continues to rise. 

“If drivers insist on staying connected, they need to start using solutions, such as text-to-speech and voice recognition, in the car so that they can have their email, voicemail, texts and tweets read aloud, they can make calls and they can control their navigation system without removing their hands from the wheel,” Reber continued.

“This technology is already available in many new cars and on a wide range of smartphones. Drivers need to consider these speech solutions if they are intent on using their phones in the car as it is extremely concerning that the amount of phone use among UK drivers has increased to such an extent. By using voice technologies, users can achieve the same functionality on their phones, their satnavs, or their infotainment systems, without diverting their attention from the road.”

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