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We want to consider other concerns that have been expressed about such systems. For example, consumer groups have found widely differing results in
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performance tests. Other studies have suggested that many drivers, particularly young people, are becoming dependent on navigation systems because they are not confident in map reading. I also have to bear in mind our recent statistical analysis suggesting that 32 per cent. of accidents are caused by a failure to look properly. Systems that distract drivers are clearly to be avoided. We want to consider such issues carefully before making recommendations. If it is true that drivers are depending on such devices, that reinforces the need to do whatever is necessary to ensure the systems are safe and fit for purpose.

We have been working to get the best from these systems in other ways. For example, we have included simple and straightforward advice to drivers in the Highway Code. Rule 128 already warns of the risk of distractions from in-vehicle systems such as route guidance devices. The code explains that drivers must be in proper control of their vehicles at all times. They must not allow themselves to become distracted by such equipment while driving. If they need to adjust the equipment, or to study it closely, they should find a safe place to stop.

We are also working with industry interests. Some time ago, the Department developed guidelines for
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assessing route guidance systems against standards—known as human-machine interface, or HMI, standards—to reduce the potential for driver distraction. That work led to the creation of a European statement of principles on HMI that was issued by the European Commission and adopted by the major vehicle manufacturers. The Department also commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory to produce guidelines on assessing the routing strategy of systems. That provides manufacturers with an evaluation tool to reduce the possibility of inappropriate routing.

Meanwhile, all responses to our consultation will inform our development of proposals. I am looking forward to seeing those responses in due course. If hon. Members have any more examples that they want to bring to my attention or any further questions, I am happy to receive their representations. I look forward to debating the subject again, perhaps after the consultation as we decide the way forward.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at twenty-nine minutes past Six o’clock.

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