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PHONES AND HEADPHONES: Is modern consumer tech causing issues on the roads?



Technology is becoming a part of our day-to-day lives, and with the demand for consumer-friendly tech, it’s likely to become further integrated into our processes. In fact, data collected by Statista has shown that revenue in the Consumer Electronic markets comes to around £23.61 billion in 2022.

The results of Deloitte’s Mobile Consumer Survey 2019 show that around 90% of adults own a smartphone, and their Digital Consumer Trends 2022 found that 91% of people use their smartphones every day. With advanced technology becoming more accessible than ever, we wonder whether there’s any danger to introducing it within cars.

In this article, Jardine Motors will look at how modern consumer tech could be contributing to road accidents and think about how we could avoid this going forwards.

Put your phone down

Mobile phones have been commercially available in the UK since 1992 when Motorola released the Personal Phone, and since then, we’ve seen the technology grow over the next 30 years. And with so many phones in people’s pockets, research has found that nearly half of all drivers aged between 25 and 34 have admitted to making or receiving calls when driving, which makes you four times more likely to crash. If you’re texting or typing, that jumps to six times.

Texting while driving has been illegal since 2003, however, in March 2022, these laws were further expanded to cover the new processes that phones can accomplish, such as browsing the internet and further messaging beyond solely texting. This has also been extended to sat navs, tablets, and other devices that can “send and receive data”. Being caught in defiance of these laws can result in you receiving six penalty points on your licence and a £200 fine.

If your licence was received within two years prior to you being caught on your phone behind the wheel, it could be taken away from you. Plus, should courts become involved, you could be banned from driving and receive a maximum fine of £1,000, or £2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or bus.

The best way to avoid these punishments is to not even look at your phone while driving. If you’re expecting an important call, connecting your phone to your car’s Bluetooth system or investing in a hands-free headset with a quick-answer button cuts out the need to look at your phone screen.

Take out your headphones

With how much mobile phones have advanced over the three decades they’ve been commercially available, the peripherals that can be used with them have similarly become more advanced. Headphones come standard with every smartphone on the market, and they usually have a microphone attached for hands-free phone calls, as well as for listening to music and watching videos.

While 97% of respondents to the Audio Analytics survey said they thought it was dangerous to wear headphones or earphones while driving, 37% also stated they found themselves in a hazardous situation over the year prior while wearing them. There are currently no laws stating you cannot wear headphones while driving, but if police pulled you over while you had a pair on, they could penalise you for not being in line with the due care and attention act.

Driving requires a lot of attention being paid to the roads and other motorists around you. Research has proven that human beings react faster to sounds rather than sight, so limiting your hearing can have a huge impact on your safety while behind the wheel. If you want to listen to the radio or music, connecting your phone to an aux cord or Bluetooth like you can get in most modern cars, such as the Jaguar F-Type, and playing through your car speakers is much better.

The tech making cars safer

It may feel like technology is making everything more unsafe, but a lot of the evolution of in-car technology to assist in driving has had the sole goal of making our journeys safer. It’s common for cars now to have parking assist tools like sensors that beep to prevent collisions or scratches and rear-view cameras that help when parking to give you more visibility on your environment.

Automation could play a huge part in the future of motoring technology, which can be seen in the further development of blind spot warning (BSW) systems that can detect oncoming threats. In fact, a Consumer Reports survey found that 64% of drivers want to see this tech implemented in their vehicle. Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is another system that is being developed to improve safety, where your vehicle can keep at a safe following distance from those in front at a set speed. ACC will help your vehicle adapt to the surrounding vehicles and moderate speed in response to speeding up or slowing down.

When you’re driving, make sure you’re prioritising it for your safety and the safety of those around you. There might be points while you’re driving when your vehicle could be stationary in traffic, and you think that’s an acceptable point to check your phone. However, from the moment you begin driving and are not parked in an appropriate parking spot, you’re at risk of being pulled over and punished for using your phone. Plus, if the traffic starts moving unexpectedly, you could cause accidents or further jams by being distracted.

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