February 4, 2023

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Traffic, cars | Shady touch screens make us dangerous drivers

(The newspaper online): – We suspect touch screens play a role in accidents. Many of the dips and head-on crashes can’t be explained by speed, intoxication, car malfunctions or someone sleeping. Then it could be due to a lack of attention. When driving, you should focus on the traffic and not on the screen in the car, says Bård Morten Johansen, Subject Manager at Trygg Trafikk.

In a survey conducted on behalf of Trygg Trafikk and Fremtind, 1 in 3 answered that touch screens make them more discreet in traffic. At the same time, 3 out of 4 report that they actively use the touch screen while driving.

Main findings from the survey

  • 73% use the screen 1 to 5 times while driving

  • Most people often use the screen to play/change the radio channel

  • 36% think the screen makes them more invisible in traffic

Source: Safe Traffic

Almost half of accidents are caused by inattention

According to the Institute for Transportation Economics, more than 40 percent of all traffic accidents are caused by inattention. Trygg Trafikk has always been concerned that touch screens get too much attention.

Behavioral scientist and traffic researcher Dagfinn Moe at SINTEF is now leading a larger interest study in collaboration with Trygg Trafikk og Fremtind, the insurer for SpareBank 1 and DNB.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to get some answers to how much attention screens in cars steal attention from driving,” he says.

Traffic Investigator tells about a way to understand motorists.

– to see where our eyes are fixed while driving and how long to use eye tracking. This is an effective way to measure and understand consumer attention and reactions, says Dagfinn Moe.

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Also read: Norwegian Road Administration: 118 people died in traffic accidents in 2022

Substantial replacement costs

In 2022, Fremtind has registered more than 73,000 claims. The total compensation costs for these damages amounted to more than NOK 2.2 billion. Many injuries can be avoided, says Therese Hofstad-Nielsen, Fremtend’s injury prevention officer, in a press release.

– These are injuries that can easily be avoided with careful attention behind the wheel. We fear that cell phones and screens in cars will take too much attention away from actual driving. You shouldn’t look at your mobile phone or a screen in a car for too long before you swerve or lose the reaction time you need to deal with an accident.

Moreover, it says motorists should focus on what they need to do.

– The traffic picture is changing rapidly, and therefore it is important to focus on what we are doing, that is, driving, says the injury preventer.

Also read: A man in his twenties without a driver’s license ran away after a traffic accident

Different practices in car manufacturers

Today, the differences between different cars are great when it comes to the number of screens, the position of the screen and the functions superimposed on the touch screen.

At the same time, there are no requirements for training regarding the transition to new technology in cars.

Touch screens in cars are here to stay. Then it must be able to operate so that the consumer does not pose a risk to traffic. Today, more and more functions are being added to these screens, but so far there is no standard for menu layouts or what kind of functionality can or cannot be on the screen, Johansen says.

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Many road users pay more attention to touch screens than they should, which distracts them from traffic.

Ideally, it should not be necessary to use these screens while driving. We know very little about how much attention the use of screens in cars steals from the road, but one thing is for sure, we should always focus on traffic when driving, says Theme Manager.