Monday, 29 july 2019 | Redacción CEU
New likes in a random picture on Instagram, several voice messages sent by a friend on Whatsapp, the GPS's indications, a Facebook notification, new Linkedin contacts, another message in your inbox,... Smartphone users see how their daily activity is constantly interrupted due to the numerous alerts they receive on their mobile devices. This is a circumstance that may lead to many people being no longer able to resist the temptation to look at their smartphones and act recklessly in some contexts. One of the most serious examples is using cell phones while driving.
Both drivers and pedestrians have become increasingly reckless with the use of their smartphones. The statistical data supports this statement. The VI Distractions Report carried out by BP, Castrol and RACE, as part of their "Stop Distractions" campaign, has concluded that there is an exponential trend of dangerous attitudes related to smartphones in traffic. In particular, this study claims that, out of the 2,132 users which were surveyed, 12% admit using social platforms while driving on a regular basis. This percentage amounts to 17% when respondents are in the age range from 18 to 24 years old. Precisely, this age range matches that of the so-called digital natives.
If we compare these figures with those of five years ago, we observe that, compared to the current 12%, only 0.5% of the respondents claimed to use cell phones to check social networking sites while they were driving. These figures are also higher in other activities related to the digital world such as taking photos or recording videos (12% versus 1%), using a GPS (25% versus 7.7%), making hands-free calls (14% versus 12%) or using instant messaging (19% versus 14.4%). Undoubtedly, our change in technological habits has also been reflected in our driving behavior.
Two weeks ago, the Spanish Directorate-General for Traffic made public the data about the people who were killed and injured in traffic accidents in Spain during 2018. These figures reflected a slight decrease in the number of fatalities in the previous year, but also evidenced the increase in the number of dead motorists and pedestrians; specifically, 386 pedestrians: 149 on the road (46 more than the previous year) and 237 in the city (11 less than in 2017).
Therefore, it is not surprising that the study into distractions not only focuses on drivers, but also on pedestrians. According to it, 76% of Spaniards send messages or read them while crossing the street. In fact, 55% admit doing so frequently. Besides, 87% answer calls (63% do so regularly) and 57% listen to music (39% of them on a daily basis). Precisely, this latest data is really worrying if we consider that noise is key to warning pedestrians of the presence of vehicles. As we mentioned in a previous article, this is one of the reasons why both the European Union and the United States are beginning to implement regulations that force electric cars to emit noise.
When people talk about the misuse of mobile devices and social networking sites in relation to driving, they usually think of drivers. Nonetheless, this responsibility, as we have mentioned before, also extends to pedestrians. However, there are also other important actors in this equation. Recently, the Spanish Directorate-General for Traffic, together with Orange (a multinational telecommunications company) created a campaign to sensitize users about the danger of using cell phones behind the wheel. There is nothing new about this, but this warning also addressed friends and family who were not even on the street or the road.
The idea of this campaign was raising awareness among family and friends about the dangers of sending messages or trying to get in touch with people who are driving, since they may put their lives at risk. This call was forceful: What if the message that a father sends to his son while he is driving was the last one? With this new approach, the DGT and Orange intended to make people reflect on the effect that these messages might have. From the typical “when are you coming home?” to the innocent “have a nice trip!”, these messages may be decisive when it comes to causing an accident.
In this sense, the survey conducted by BP, Castrol and the RACE has also provided some data. According to it, 61% of people call their interlocutors and 66% communicate with them through instant messaging even though they know they are driving. 90% of respondents recognize that such behavior may cause an accident and practically all of them understand that using the cell phone in some way may pose a clear risk of accident. Then, is this a matter of awareness or dependency?
At The CEU IAM Business School, we are aware that the professionals in the automotive sector need to be more prepared than ever to face challenges such as the development of new vehicles, the new mobility in cities, the accident rate, the changes in demand for users and the adoption of innovative ideas. This is the main reason that has led us to designing our Automotive Sector MDP and our Master's Degree in the Automotive Industry Businesses. Thanks to these training courses, the students will be prepared to manage and enhance the resources of companies in a more effective and efficient way. Ask for further information!