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 Wednesday, 01 September 2010
A new ITU-T Technology Watch Report provides an overview of technology-caused driver distraction and surveys standards, guidelines and initiatives aiming at making the use of in-vehicle information and communication systems less distracting.

Texting, making calls, and other interaction with in-vehicle information and communication systems while driving is a serious source of driver distraction and increases the risk of traffic accidents. Technology-caused driver distraction is a global problem and has its stake in the more than 1.2 million people dying in road crashes each year. These numbers are more than reason enough for the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration to launch a Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020) to halt or reverse the increasing trend in road traffic deaths and injuries around the world.

In April 2010, ITU Council adopted a Resolution on ďITUís role in ICTs and improving Road Safety,Ē instructing the Director of ITUís Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) to bring this matter to the attention of the relevant groups in ITU-T, such as Study Group 12 and the Focus Group on Car Communication. The annual Fully Networked Car workshop, jointly organized by ISO, IEC and ITU at the Geneva International Motor Show, will also contribute to raising awareness on this important issue.

Dialing a hand-held device increases a driverís chance of being involved in a vehicle crash by three times and talking while driving increases the crash risk by 1.3 times. When composing or reading text messages (SMS) drivers spend up to 400 per cent more time with their eyes off the road than they do when not texting. Mobile broadband enables drivers and passengers to benefit from innovative applications and location-based services, but used at the wheel, smartphones contribute to inattention.

By implementing standardized human-machine interfaces in their devices and applications, manufacturers can make their use less distracting. Advanced speech recognition and text-to-speech features, and ensured Quality of Service of in-vehicle hands-free systems may minimize driver distraction. Future safety technologies may temporarily or permanently disable certain features of information and communication technologies used by the driver, based on constantly updated status information provided by sensors inside and outside the vehicle.

These and other approaches to reduce technology-based driver distraction and to increase road safety are discussed in a number of standardization bodies, including ITU-T and ISO. The Technology Watch Report highlights their work and points out options for ITUís role in ICT and road safety.

A dedicated website provides additional sources of information and an overview of ITU-T Study Groups with work items related to driver distraction.
Download Report                   Go to Driver Distraction Website

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