There’s a lack of regulatory oversight into onboard vehicle technology and industry advocates want to see better guidance and consumer awareness.
There are many risks around increasingly complex vehicle controls. Concerns have been raised by several advocacy groups over the years. For example, the American Automobile Association released a report in 2017 that said that automakers are cramming so much infotainment technology into the dashboard of new vehicles is making drivers take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel for dangerously long periods of time.
The “explosion of technology” is complicated to use and putting drivers at risk, wrote University of Utah professor David Straye in the report.
“This is a major and an increasing issue,” Ian Jack, head of public affairs at the Canadian Automobile Association told The Canadian Press recently. “It’s becoming increasingly challenging for people to manage these things inside their vehicle.”
He, too, complained about the overload of distractions available to drivers. CP reported that CAA will be launching a public awareness campaign to better inform drivers of the risks of distracted driving with a focus on so-called infotainment systems.
In a recent CAA study, the group found that distracted driving is a major concern for drivers. More than 90 per cent reported that distraction — such as people using their phones while driving — is a top threat while on the road.
“This is a major and an increasing issue. It’s becoming increasingly challenging for people to manage these things inside their vehicle.”
Recent data from Transport Canada shows that distracted drivers are at fault in more than 1 in 5 fatal collisions.
“Distracted driving is really even more of a concern because it’s other people who are at risk, other road users who are at risk, and more likely to be killed and injured,” CP quoted Robyn Robertson, chief executive of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, as saying.
Guidelines around limited distraction from displays were introduced in Canada in 2019. However, they’re not enforceable.
Transport Canada spokeswoman Sau Sau Liu told CP in a statement that the agency “encourages vehicle and electronics manufacturers to design devices that are compatible with safe driving and to follow all relevant safety guidelines and best practices.”