Are drivers ready to install restriction apps?

A new study has revealed what drivers are willing to do to prevent distracted driving.

Almost 70% of drivers are willing to install an app on their mobile to block text messaging, web browsing and email features as long as they can still make hands-free calls and listen to Bluetooth music.

The finding comes from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety-Queensland (CARRS-Q) national study which surveyed 712 drivers.

Study leader Dr Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios said mobile phone use is so ingrained in our society that completely stopping people from using their phones while driving is an extremely difficult task.

“Using voluntary apps that restrict some phone functions is emerging as a practical new countermeasure to limit distracted driving,” Dr Oviedo-Trespalacios said.

“Existing studies have shown that mobile phone use behind the wheel is a significant contributor to road trauma.

“Police crash reports in the USA have estimated that phone distraction contributes to 18% of fatal crashes.”

The study explored how drivers use their phones in the car with most drivers admitting to only using it to make hands-free calls.

Of people surveyed, 17% confessed to doing ‘visual-manual tasks’ that involved touching their phone, 15% reported occasionally looking at their phone for more than two seconds and 19% occasionally read text conversations without writing back.

While a majority of drivers were keen to install restriction apps on their mobile to prevent distracted driving, only 37% were prepared to if incoming calls were blocked completely.

Drivers also wanted the ability to use music-playing functions while driving.

Only 40% of drivers had heard about voluntary apps to prevent mobile phone distracted driving and 10% said they had already tried the technology.

The most common app already in use was iPhone’s Do Not Disturb While Driving, with a few people also using Android Auto, Waze, Truemotion Family, RoadMode or a vehicle interface that restricted phone functions.

“Overall, our study found that familiarity and actual use of these types of apps was low, which means a lot more work is needed increase public knowledge and acceptance of these technologies,” Dr Oviedo-Trespalacios said.

“The good news is that once drivers learned about these apps, there was a willingness to use them.

“But for the apps to gain acceptance, it’s important that they retain hands-free calling and music functions, while still limiting the most dangerous actions – actually touching the phone to text, email and scroll.”

Are you a safe driver? Read about how we can all play a role in making our roads safer.