Technology has advanced the ways in which we drive – GPS systems, cruise control, reversing cameras and even self-driving technology. However, these advancements have the potential to increase the risk of an accident if not used correctly. Drivers are often distracted by new capabilities, bringing into question whether technology in the car really helps or hinders driving behaviour.
There’s no doubt that various technological advancements have been designed to not only make driving easier but also increase safety. Lane change alerts assist drivers in knowing when it is safe to conduct a lane change. Reversing cameras make it easier to park without hitting any obstacles or neighbouring vehicles. In-built GPS systems allow drivers to plan their journey in the most efficient way. Many of us can’t imagine driving without these modern technologies.
The problem with this technology is that it causes additional distractions for drivers. With touchscreens controlling a number of functions including radio, air conditioning and GPS, they can be very distracting for drivers. Touchscreens force drivers to take their eyes away from the road and to focus their attention on the screen. Mobile phones are also causing drivers to divert their attention away from the road which is resulting in an increased number of accidents on Australian roads. At Corporate Driver Training Australia, we do not support the use of mobile phones and touch screen appliances whilst driving. These activities do not align with low-risk driving due to the increased risk associated once drivers start to focus their attention on these devices.
This technology also encourages drivers to rely less heavily on the core principles of low-risk driving. We should be able to make a lane change and reverse park without the assistance of technology, however, by relying on it we are becoming ‘lazy drivers’. If these in-vehicle systems were to become faulty or if we needed to use a car without these modern features, drivers should still be able to perform basic driving skills that do not put them at increased risk.
It is important for drivers to recognise not only the benefits of driver technology but also the associated dangers. With or without technology, we need to always remember the core principles of low-risk driving in order to minimise risk on the road.