Motorists across the UK have been warned that the government will be testing a new emergency alert system via mobile phones on April 23rd. Experts predict that without prior warning, the alert could startle motorists on the roads and potentially cause chaos. Preparing For Alerts
The message and accompanying siren are due to go out on April 23. Anyone with a mobile device will get a notification, which will continue until the warning is acknowledged by unlocking the phone.
However, there are many concerned groups who are expressing concern for a national alert scheme. Domestic violence victims with hidden devices, sporting groups and now the transport sector are due to hold discussions with government representatives to discuss the logistics - and potential issues - that may arise from the alert.
The RAC has met with government officials to talk about ways to mitigate the risk of a crash as a result of the alert going off.
Edmund King is the president of the AA. His concern is aimed at those motorists who are less experienced - Sunday - who use the quieter roads as an excuse to practice driving. His comments are as follows:
If they (motorists) have their phones in the car and an odd sound goes off, there could be some form of panic. Even with a hands-free system, the odd sound could mean they reach for the phone. So there’s no doubt there’s a threat of distraction for some drivers.”
Current reports suggest the motorway signs will be used during the build-up to the test alert. The signs will advise people not to check or use their phones while driving.
Technically speaking, it’s possible for people to turn the alert off by adjusting the settings in their phones. However, because there are a lot of benefits to being warned of a life-threatening situation ahead of time, it’s expected that most of the population will choose to keep their phones on and receive the alert as normal.
The alert system is nothing new for other parts of the world. Europe, Japan, the US and Canada have all employed alert systems via SMS to provide warnings about various natural disasters and terror attacks. With that being said, the system is still in its infancy here in the UK, and government officials acknowledge that it would require more testing and strategising before it could be deployed as an effective tool for use in emergency situations. How to Handle the Alert
Responding to the alert is easy. When the message is transmitted to every phone, users will simply need to press the “ok” button to silence the alert and acknowledge they have received it.
The government has insisted that the alerts are one-way, secure and cost nothing to receive. They also assert that location and personal data will not be gathered by users who acknowledge the message. There have been tests conducted for the service already. East Suffolk and Reading have already received test messages.