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Based on many years’ experience in undertaking tests of both driver distraction and the performance of in-vehicle information systems, TRL has developed a protocol for the evaluation of in-vehicle systems designed to provide a safety benefit. The protocol is based around four key categories of assessment: Relevance, Deployment, Usability and Resilience. A product is scored in each category with an overall score determined to allow a TRL recommendation status to be given to the product. The evaluation protocol can be used to provide independent support for the claimed benefits of the evaluated product and/or to provide expert insights into ways in which a product might be improved to enhance its potential safety benefit and usability.

The first product to be subjected to this protocol was the ‘Driver Protection Application’ – a smartphone app developed by Romex that limits smartphone functionality when a vehicle is in motion, which achieved a ‘TRL Highly Recommended’ status.

With reference to the evaluation protocol Stephanie Cynk, Human Factors Researcher at TRL said:

“Many third-party in-vehicle systems come to the market making claims suggesting that they will revolutionise safety with little evidence to support such statements. At TRL, with an independent and impartial status and long, trusted history in the testing of vehicle safety systems, we are delighted to be able to provide the market with an independent evaluation process that will undertake a practical assessment of such systems, provide expert guidance on the likely safety benefit that would be achieved through its use and a recommendation status based on the outcomes of the evaluation. We congratulate Romex on achieving ‘Highly recommended’ for their Driver Protection App and we look forward to testing more products to provide purchasers, users and developers with insights into the strengths and weaknesses of their in-vehicle safety equipment.”