Car Navigators Increase Accident Risk

      May 25, 2007 08:59

      There are growing concerns that using car navigators while driving in fact increases the risk of accidents. Car navigation systems now come with features including DMB receiver, MP3 player, PMP and digital camera, and some route guidance systems are equipped with Internet access allowing users to read word files and send photo files through the web - all while keeping the eyes off the road.

      According to market research firm Daco D&S, sales of car navigators increased from 700,000 in 2005 to 1.15 million in 2006. Considering that 400,000 to 500,000 units have been sold annually, one out of 2.2 cars will have the navigator in 2010, it says. However, research indicates that using multi-media devices while driving increases the risk of accidents: according to the Samsung Traffic Safety Research Institute, the accident risk is higher among drivers watching mobile TV than drivers with 0.05 percent blood alcohol concentration. Research also found that drivers using the navigator found it more difficult to see out front.

      A driver watches a mobile TV program on his car navigation system.

      Watching TV is probably the most problematic, and onboard navigators are actually designed to switch off automatically when the gear is shifted into drive. But many car repair shops alter the device illegally to allow drivers to watch while driving. One garage staffer says it takes only a couple of hours to alter the device by removing a wire. "Many car repair shops change the navigators when they repair cars," he said. In the case of mobile TV players, drivers can watch programs with a single touch.

      A taxi driver said you can watch TV on Digital Media Broadcasting (DMB) players by choosing an icon among navigation, music, movie or DMB. "The warning message says watching DMB while driving is prohibited, but you can ignore it," he adds.

      The secretary-general of the Citizen's Coalition for Safety, Huh Eok, urged the government to introduce regulations and implement effective crackdowns on drivers who watch mobile TV while driving. But an officer with the National Police Agency said unlike mobile phones, whose use can be tracked, drivers watching TV simply switch off the device and deny they were using it, "so there's no way to prove it."

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