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In-car wi-fi should be regulated to prevent accidents - campaigners

Monday, December 1st 2014 by Ellen Branagh

Road safety campaigners have called for careful monitoring and regulation of in-car wi-fi technology to make sure it doesn’t cause accidents.

The comments come after EE launched its latest in-car wi-fi device, the Buzzard 2, which aims to bring connectivity without needing a built-in solution.

The device, available to businesses and consumers on a range of pay-as-you-go and monthly plans, can plug directly into the dashboard’s 12v connection without needing an adapter, while an extra USB socket allows other devices to be connected to it and charged.

But safety groups Brake and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) urged the government to carefully monitor technology that could compromise safety.

James McLoughlin, spokesperson for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Last year, somebody was killed or seriously injured on average every three days by a driver distracted by their mobile phone.

“Driving is one of the most complicated and risky tasks many of us do on a regular basis, and it requires our full concentration to drive safely.

“At a time when people are still needlessly killed and injured because of selfish multi-tasking drivers, the government would need to think seriously about how in-car wifi technology could be regulated to ensure it doesn’t create further distractions for drivers.”

Nick Lloyd, road safety manager for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “RoSPA is concerned that technology in cars must be carefully used to improve road safety rather than as an aid to comfort or quicker communication.

“For example, research by TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) has shown that using a hands-free mobile phone is a driver distraction which affects a driver’s reaction time and observation skills.

“Technological advancement needs to be carefully monitored so that safety is not compromised.”

Last month the groups voiced concerns that new technology, which is helping people do more with their phones while driving, could be contributing to a hike in accidents involving people using their phones at the wheel.

Figures from the Department for Transport showed that the number of accidents where a mobile phone was recorded as a contributory factor have risen by a total of 38% since 2005, with a 12% rise between 2012 and 2013 last year.

An EE spokesperson said: “As set out in the accompanying literature, and in our marketing, in-car WiFi is designed for use by passengers and should only be used in ways that comply with road safety law.”

Cable.co.uk approached the Department for Transport for comment but it was unable to provide one before publication.

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