Road safety groups are calling for a clampdown on drivers who watch television at the wheel, in response to a growing trend that has been branded “irresponsible and stupid” by government ministers.
Once the preserve of the most expensive luxury cars, televisions, particularly those with digital Freeview receivers, are becoming more commonplace, being optionally available on many mainstream models.
To comply with the rules of the road – which state that it is illegal to watch a screen other than one displaying driving information – almost all turn themselves off when the car is in motion.
It’s very stupid for drivers to buy these devices – AA president Edmund King
However, a growing number of companies are offering gadgets that bypass this safety mechanism, leaving drivers free to illegally watch their favourite programs while on the road.
Worse still, some drivers are opting for a more DIY solution, by affixing laptop computers to their dashboards and accessing films and television shows over mobile Internet.
Unsurprisingly this worrying and dangerous practice has come in for heavy criticism from motoring organisations.
AA president Edmund King, said: “It’s outrageous and irresponsible for companies to sell devices solely to override safety features built into the car. It’s also very stupid for drivers to buy these devices,” reported Auto Express.
“The police need to take these TV junkies off the road,” he continued.
His sentiments were echoed by road safety minister Robert Goodwill: “It’s absolutely vital that drivers give their full attention to the road. Watching TV while driving is irresponsible, dangerous and stupid because it puts other road users at risk.”
He went on to say that drivers caught watching TV on the move would be “severely penalised”.
However, companies offering the gadgets to bypass a car’s inbuilt safety measures have defended their position, pointing out that they are sold with disclaimers informing drivers that they are for off-road use only.