Survey highlights mobile phone issue among UK fleets

11.28 | 1 March | | 3 comments

Image: RAC

Nearly one in five (19%) UK companies claim an employee has been involved in a collision as a result of using a mobile phone at the wheel, new research suggests.

The RAC Business survey questioned 1,000 UK businesses, with 15% admitting their drivers are ‘often involved’ in mobile phone related collisions and 5% suggesting it happens ‘on a regular basis’.

38% of businesses said they expect commercial drivers to answer calls while on the road, rising to 49% among larger companies (500 to 1,000 employees).

However, the survey suggests 30% of businesses don’t provide legally compliant hands-free kits, while 20% have no policy for mobile phone use while driving.

The survey results have been published today (1 March) to mark the first anniversary of the introduction of stiffer penalties for using a handheld phone while driving.

RAC Business says the findings confirm the need for fleet and business owners to highlight the dangers of using a handheld phone at the wheel to their employees, and make sure they have a policy in place for the use of phones while driving for work.

Rod Dennis, from the RAC’s Be Phone Smart campaign, said: “It is illegal to use a handheld phone while driving. But at the same time we recognise that businesses need to stay in touch with drivers and commercial vehicle drivers need to stay in touch with customers.

“The use of hands-free kits is within the law and that can provide a legal and safer solution for businesses.

“If employers expect their company drivers and staff to take calls on the road, which 38% admit they do according to our research, then they should be providing legally compliant hands-free kits so they can do that without breaking the law.”


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    It can’t have escaped readers’ notice that in the last couple of days in Court, according to the news reports, the multiple fatal collision on the M1 near Newport Pagnell was caused by a lorry driver who admitted he lost concentration, having been on a hands-free call for an hour, and didn’t notice two stationary vehicles in the lane ahead of him. He was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving (but not by careless driving) whereas slightly curiously in my view, the driver of the stationary lorry ahead, was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.


    Hugh Jones
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    0

    My understanding is that it is not just the holding of a phone that makes a call dangerous – it’s the cognitive behaviour that is impaired trying to have a telephone conversation and concentrate on driving.

    Let’s not endorse the use of hands free just because it is convenient for business and apparently legal. There is overwhelming evidence that using hands free is a distraction and you can be prosecuted under the same legislation if you are involved in an incident.


    Simon Rewell, London
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    +2

    “The use of hands-free kits is within the law and that can provide a legal and safer solution for businesses.”

    Within the law, mostly due to difficulty with enforcement, but not really much safer. The safe option would be to pull-over to read or send a text.

    Companies whose employees collide with other road-users “on a regular basis” should face sanctions.


    Paul Luton, TEDDINGTON
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    +3