Car makers have insisted that technology is safe
Road safety campaigners are calling for urgent action to stop a new generation of touchscreen entertainment systems in car dashboards which they believe will cause more deaths on the road.
Manufacturers including Fiat, Toyota and Honda have released models this year that allow motorists to check apps such as Twitter and Facebook on the go.
Next year Ford and Nissan will start selling cars that allow drivers to connect their smartphones to touchscreen displays.
But the campaigners claim that screens the size of small TVs pinging with updates from phones and social media are a potential “death trap”.
Charity Brake communications and campaign director Gary Rae said: “Sadly the marketing people and not the safety people are in the driving seat with this technology.
“The government must look into these screens and test them in controlled live experiments so we can see how they are really used. If they prove to be dangerous then restrictions should be placed on them.”
But the car makers have insisted that the technology is safe, saying that the screens and apps are designed to minimise the time needed to operate them.
They argue that much of the functionality can be operated by voice or by controls on the steering wheel so drivers don’t have to take their eyes off the road.
But Rae said voice recognition technology was not enough.
In-car multimedia systems are so new that there are no figures on whether they are contributing to accidents.
According to Thatcham motor insurance 90% of crashes are caused by distractions, according to Thatcham motor insurance research centre.
Aviva has said it will be reviewing claims data to see if dashboard technology caused more accidents, The Times reports.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport added: “We have some of the safest roads in the world, but as technology develops drivers must take responsibility for their actions.”