International Road Federation expresses concern at growing incident of distracted driving

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International Road federation (IRF) has expressed deep concern at growing incident of distracted driving due to latest smart phones, new in-vehicles communication technologies including electronic data communication devices and crossing roads by pedestrians using mobile phones and listening to music using headphones , which is becoming a serious and growing threat to road safety across the world including India, which accounts for 10 per cent of the global road fatalities .

Distracted driving is a serious and growing threat to road safety. With more and more people owning mobile phones, and the rapid introduction of new in-vehicle communication systems, this problem is likely to escalate in the country in the coming years. It is startling that some 1.3 million people are estimated to die on the world’s roads each year, while as many as 50 million are injured. Although many governments including the Namibian government already have programmes in place to reduce road deaths and injuries, the number of road fatalities is increasing, and if current trends continue, road crashes are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.” Said Mr K.K.Kapila, Chairman, International Road Federation (IRF), a Geneva base global body working for safer roads.

Apart from texting and surfing the internet while driving, proliferation of integrated in-vehicle ICT and nomadic devices, including navigational information and electronic data communications devices meant for driver safety are also contributing to driver distraction, and are among the leading contributors to road traffic fatalities and injuries.”said Mr Kapila.

Technology-caused driver distraction is a global problem and has its stake in the more people dying in road crashes each year. The problem could be addressed by national laws and awareness campaigns, and some organisations can develop guidelines and standards to make in-vehicle information and communication systems less distracting and publicize legislation and enforcement. IRF on its part plans to launch social media campaign to educate drivers and bring in behavioural changes to reduce use of mobile phones and get less distracted by other technological devices. Given the difficulty in removing the causes of distraction, such as the use of mobile phones, and in enforcing laws related to particular sources of distraction, it is likely that behavioral strategies to address this issue will need to involve strong campaigns to promote awareness of risk. There is also need for driving schools and Licensing handbooks to provide learner drivers with information on how to manage distraction safely, including information on the relative risks associated with engaging in distracting activities and their effects on driving performance”he added.

Although Government is trying to amend the Motor Vehicle Act to impose fines on drivers caught using any hand-held or hands-free device, or any gadget capable of transmitting or receiving signs, images or sounds. However bringing in awareness and behavioural change is still the best solution and safety community has to work hard on it.”Mr Kapila said .

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