Post a Comment Print Share on Facebook
Featured Karriere FDP Frankreich FußballWM paris

Writing a message at the wheel – the risk of an accident increases enormously

Quickly read WhatsApp messages while driving, make calls with your cell phone to your ear or reset the navigation system – what can possibly happen? A lot, warn the accident researchers at the insurer Allianz.

- 49 reads.

Writing a message at the wheel – the risk of an accident increases enormously

Quickly read WhatsApp messages while driving, make calls with your cell phone to your ear or reset the navigation system – what can possibly happen? A lot, warn the accident researchers at the insurer Allianz. In 2021 alone, 117 people died in accidents involving distracted drivers in Germany and around 8,000 were injured. And according to the experts, these official statistics clearly underestimate the problem. In an extensive study on distraction at the wheel, they came to clear conclusions: If the driver turns away from what is happening on the road to use a smartphone or on-board computer, then this "roughly leads to a 50 percent increase in the risk of an accident". Whereby the values ​​for different forms of distraction are different.

Every driver knows that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. It is forbidden by law and will be punished if you allow yourself to be caught by the police. Nevertheless, the devices are being used more and more frequently, which the insurer complains about. "Reaching for the mobile phone has long been seen as socially legitimate, as unofficial customary law," says the study. Hardly any driver relates the statistical risk to himself, because everything usually goes well.

In a representative survey commissioned by Allianz, one in six drivers admitted to using their mobile phone to their ear while driving. A similar number did not rule out typing or reading text messages directly into their cell phones. The proportion of these users in particular has risen sharply compared to a similar survey from 2016. Younger drivers tend to type more often than older ones. "Texting is the new telephoning," says Christoph Lauterwasser, head of the Allianz Center for Technology. With fatal consequences: According to calculations by his colleagues, the accident risk increases by 61 percent.

The basis of the study is the information from the survey. The participants were first asked whether they had had an accident in the past three years. Then they should provide detailed information about the extent to which they use mobile phones and on-board computers. The result shows a clear connection between being distracted by technical devices and accidents. For example, anyone who has to spend a long time looking for any menu function on their car's display increases their risk of an accident by 44 percent.

Nevertheless, this risk is obviously accepted by drivers and the car industry. "The distractions in the car are becoming more complex," says Lucie Bakker, Head of Claims at Allianz Versicherung. More and more people had user-intensive functions in their car. In the survey, 83 percent of drivers stated that they owned a smartphone and 48 percent had an on-board computer with a display. Unlike drinking and driving, the topic of distraction is "not yet socially ostracized," complains the manager.

According to the study, the fact that drivers feel safe enough to check their cell phones thanks to the assistance systems in the car is a major problem. Because driving assistants, which, for example, keep the lane or the distance to the vehicle in front, are not designed for the driver to turn away. Even in assisted driving phases, the accident risk is therefore 56 percent higher if the driver is using his mobile phone.

The experts were not able to derive any significantly higher accident risks from the data when making calls using a hands-free system. "Nevertheless, that shouldn't mean the all-clear for hands-free devices. A number of international studies speak for their risk of accidents”, but restrict them.

How great the dangers actually are can hardly be reliably derived from official statistics. In Germany, distraction from the use of electronic devices has only been recorded as a cause of accidents since 2021. The only accidents that flow into the statistics are those in which the police can also prove the distraction. "In an international comparison, Germany is at the lower end of the statistics, which is an indication of the high number of unreported cases," says Lauterwasser.

In Austria, for example, every third accident involving personal injury was a distraction accident. In Switzerland the value was around 17 percent, in Germany it was only 2.3 percent. For fatal accidents, the statistics range from five to 38 percent. "In view of the importance that experts and authorities attach to the distraction factor, an EU-wide harmonization of statistical management would be imperative," demands the Alliance.

The drivers are aware of the problem - this is shown, for example, by a representative survey by the Strategy consultancy

However, the drivers do not want to be monitored. According to the Allianz survey, 61 percent of drivers refuse to be observed and warned by the car via camera or sensors if they become inattentive. In the future, however, it will no longer be possible to defend oneself against such surveillance. From 2024, newly registered vehicle types in the EU must have appropriate safety systems.

That will probably be necessary. Because a cognitive relief for drivers is not to be expected for the time being. On the contrary: practically at the same time as Allianz, Volkswagen presented its new, proprietary app store for cars at the Mobile World Congress technology trade fair in Barcelona.

In future, customers of the group brands will be able to download services such as Spotify (music), TikTok (short videos) or Webex (video conferences) and use them directly on the screen in the car. The store is scheduled to open in the first Audi vehicles as early as July. Then there is even more distraction for the drivers.

"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 5 a.m. with the financial journalists from WELT. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.

Your Name
Post a Comment
Characters Left:
Your comment has been forwarded to the administrator for approval.×
Warning! Will constitute a criminal offense, illegal, threatening, offensive, insulting and swearing, derogatory, defamatory, vulgar, pornographic, indecent, personality rights, damaging or similar nature in the nature of all kinds of financial content, legal, criminal and administrative responsibility for the content of the sender member / members are belong.