Operate the navigation system, select music, read text messages - according to Allianz Versicherung, modern technology is becoming increasingly dangerous when driving. "The risk of accidents increases by around 50 percent when using modern communication, entertainment and comfort technologies," said the Allianz Center for Technology on Wednesday in Munich.
The safety researchers surveyed more than 1,200 drivers last summer. 32 percent said they read text messages while driving. 26 percent type text messages while driving. The proportion of young drivers up to the age of 24 is significantly higher: "Four out of ten typed or read electronic messages with their mobile phones in their hands." More than half of all respondents used the navigation system, for example to enter a destination. And "87 percent of those surveyed who have to operate their radio via the on-board computer do so while driving," said study author Jörg Kubitzki. "That increases the risk of an accident by 89 percent."
Modern displays are very distracting
The consequences are fatal: "According to the police, in 2021 there were 117 deaths and more than 8,000 injuries nationwide in accidents in which the drivers were distracted," said Christoph Lauterwasser, head of the Allianz Center for Technology. "That's five percent of those killed. However, the number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher." Internationally, the reported proportions are even higher.
Car manufacturers are increasingly replacing knobs, switches and sliders with displays. "The good old buttons are in the driver's DNA. I can use them and keep my eyes on the road," said Kubitzki. The on-board computer menus, on the other hand, are complex. "You have to use the touchscreen to call up a submenu, one step forward, one step back, and sometimes it gets stuck. I study the display and have to think," said Lauterwasser. In addition, the operating concepts are also very different. "That makes it even more difficult when changing vehicles or renting a car."
Drivers overestimate themselves
The devices are becoming more and more complex and yet used as a matter of course. "People overestimate themselves. Search for music, answer Whatsapp, everything runs alongside," said Lucie Bakker, claims manager at Allianz Versicherungs-AG. Despite many years of safety work, being distracted on the road has not experienced the same social ostracism as driving under the influence of alcohol, and using a mobile phone at the wheel in particular is seen as more of a customary right. "But in doing so, they endanger themselves and others. They should realize how serious the consequences can be."
From 2024, the EU will require new vehicle models to support the driver with suitable systems and warn them if they are distracted. However, the majority of respondents are skeptical about electronic surveillance: Only 39 percent support camera or infrared scanning of the eyes, face and head. The technology can warn drivers in good time, said Lauterwasser: "This feedback alone can contribute to a positive change in behavior."