Samsung announced the launch of “The Road Comes First” campaign targeted at Singapore road users to promote the responsible use of mobile phones on the road. This campaign is endorsed by the Traffic Police and Singapore Road Safety Council, given the increasing problem of illegal mobile phone use among drivers; the total number of summons increased 46 percent, from 1,169 between January to June in 2012 to 1,705 over the same period in 20131.
A Samsung-commissioned survey found that a large majority of 83 percent of the Singapore drivers surveyed admitted to using their mobile phones, without a hands-free kit, while at the wheel in the last 12 months. They were most likely to be using GPS or map applications, checking their mobile phone screens, and texting. This was in spite of an overwhelming majority of 95 percent of respondents being aware that it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving without a hands-free kit, while the car is in motion. Complacency seemed a key cause of the unsafe behaviour; when asked why respondents used their phones in this manner, the feeling that it was safe for them to do so was the response most cited.
“Smartphones are increasingly ubiquitous in Singapore, with users depending on their devices for everything from making phone calls, map navigation to social networking. As a mobile industry leader, Samsung is taking the responsibility to encourage drivers to put aside their phones while driving, and focus on the roads,” said Irene Ng, Vice President, Marketing, Samsung Asia Pte Ltd.
To encourage safer driving behaviour, Samsung has developed an “Eyes on the Road” mobile app that helps drivers switch off mobile distractions when they get into their cars by activating the Drive Safe mode.
Survey: Singapore drivers self-confident, yet distrusting of other drivers
Samsung commissioned a survey to understand driving habits in Singapore, and driver preferences and perceptions, in relation to the use of mobile phones on Singapore roads. 513 adults with drivers’ licenses and who had driven in the past four weeks were surveyed. Survey highlights include:
Sense of complacency
The top reason cited by respondents who admitted to using their mobile phones in an unsafe manner while driving was because they felt it was safe to do so.
This complacency is reinforced by the finding that only 16 percent of drivers have been in an accident or had a near miss while driving because they were distracted by their mobile phones.
Need to stay connected on mobile for work and personal relationships
Other commonly cited reasons for using their mobile phones in an unsafe manner while driving were the pressure to respond quickly to work, friends or family, the feeling of confidence in their driving abilities and proficiency at multi-tasking, and the feeling that they had to check on their mobile phones.
The least commonly cited reasons were the inability to ignore the latest updates from social network websites, and the belief that they would not be caught by law enforcement.
Perception that other drivers are unsafe
Despite the majority of respondents admitting to using their mobile phones without a hands-free kit while driving, an overwhelming 93 percent of respondents think it is unsafe when they see other people using their mobile phones when driving.
In fact, if respondents were passengers in a car where the driver was using his mobile phone, nearly three-quarters of them would ask the driver not to do
Lack of awareness in real consequences of illegal mobile phone use while driving
Drivers checking or using their mobile phones was perceived to be the second most common unsafe driver behaviour on Singapore’s roads, with 85 percent of respondents believing it to be so. This was a close second to speeding at 86 percent.
The inappropriate use of mobile phones while driving was perceived to be a significantly more common unsafe driver behaviour than driving while under the influence of alcohol (58 percent of respondents).
Yet only 11 percent of respondents think the distraction of mobile phones while driving causes the most accidents on Singapore roads. Speeding at 42 percent and drink-driving at 38 percent are perceived to be the leading causes of accidents.
Accountability to passengers
Respondents displayed consideration towards the safety of their passengers, with 93 percent saying they would stop using their mobile phones while driving, if their passenger asked them to stop.
“The use of mobile phones while driving stems from the misconception of the drivers, thinking that they are capable of multi-tasking,” said Adjunct Associate Professor Gopinath Menon, Division of Infrastructure Systems and Maritime Studies, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, Nanyang Technological University. “This is untrue, as when a person does two tasks, in which both demand a certain amount of attention, multi-tasking is unsafe and impossible. When a driver is behind the wheel, he should concentrate on driving and avoid other distractions to avoid accidents.”
Apps to encourage safe driving
“Eyes on the Road” is a mobile app developed by Samsung, designed to help drivers cultivate the habit of driving without distraction from their mobile phones.
Drivers simply need to open the app when they get into their car to activate the Drive Safe mode. Once activated, the app silences calls, text messages and social media notifications, allowing drivers to continue on their journey safely. Drivers can deactivate the app when they have safely arrived at their destination.
To reward drivers for safe driving habits, from 6 November to 31 January 2014, the first 135 drivers in each month who hit 200km of driving without using their mobile phones, and first 50 drivers in each month to reach 1000km, 2000km and 3000km of driving without using their mobile phones, can win up to $120 worth of MSIG premium vouchers and Shell fuels vouchers each month. More than $23,000 worth of MSIG premium and Shell fuels vouchers are up for grabs. The distance travelled by drivers without using their mobile phones will be calculated by the app based on the distance travelled using the Drive Safe mode. (See appendix for more details)
“Based on our data, each year one in every six cars insured by MSIG has an accident which results in a claim. Some of these accidents can be prevented if drivers could concentrate more and keep their eyes on the roads,” said Paul Faulkner, CEO, MSIG Insurance (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. “At the end of the day, it’s really not worth putting yourself and other road users at risk because of a moment of distraction.”
“Shell has long been a strong proponent of road safety and we have been actively reaching out to educate the public on road safety. Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and any distraction, such as the use of mobile phone while driving, can compromise safety. By partnering Samsung in this initiative, we hope to encourage motorists to be responsible and do their part to make our roads safe for all,” said Louis Tan, General Manager, Retail Sales and Operations, Shell Singapore.
The “Eyes on the Road” app can be downloaded from Google Play for free from 6 November and from Samsung Apps from 18 November. The app can be used on all Android smartphones and is optimised for Samsung GALAXY S III, GALAXY S4, GALAXY Note II and GALAXY Note 3.
Samsung also launched “Pledge Your Attention”, a Facebook app that calls for people to commit to not using their mobile phones while driving, and make a strong stand against the phone-and-drive habit.
“Bus shelter advertising targets commuters effectively: our media formats sit within the line-of-sight of commuters, communicating to commuters but without distracting them from what they should be doing, which resonates with the theme of Samsung’s initiative – The Road Comes First!” – Kelly Khoo, Sales & Marketing Director, Clear Channel Singapore.
“Radio is an effective channel to communicate with drivers. We are glad to be in partnership with Samsung, and have Power 98 as the official radio station to remind the public and our listeners on the importance of safe driving,” said Doreen Ong, General Manager, SAFRA Radio.
Samsung’s “The Road Comes First” campaign is supported by the Traffic Police and Singapore Road Safety Council, and partners Clear Channel, MSIG, Power 98 and Shell.