The proliferation of mobile phones and other digital devices in vehicles is creating a dilemma for law makers, employers and the general public.
Businesses can play a major role in reducing motor vehicle accidents resulting from driver distraction by putting mobile phone usage policies in place.
The Road Ahead looks at the facts:
- What is really happening on our roads?
- What are the current laws and how to comply with them?
- And, is there a solution?
This motorist was recently caught, outed and shamed by an activist group called Aberdeen Cycle Cam. He was driving his 2 ton Land Rover through busy Aberdeen streets while interacting with his mobile phone, laptop and head phones in each ear!
The US-based National Safety Council has listed Distracted Driving as the third highest cause of road fatalities after alcohol and speeding.
Over ¼ of all road fatalities can be attributed to distracted driving.
And according to the NSC the number one cause of driver distraction are mobile phones.
They attribute 25% of all road accidents to drivers being distracted by their phone.
They estimate that at any point in time 10% of all drivers are using their mobile phone.
In the UK this equates to 3 million drivers on the phone at any one time!
And the numbers are even worse when it comes to commercial drivers.
A recent analysis by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory found 1 in 7 van drivers were using their mobile phones while driving!
This may surprise you but the NSC has also confirmed that handsfree is not risk free either.
Their study showed that there is no increase at all in attentiveness for when drivers use their mobile phone handsfree rather than handheld.
According to the NSC the brain can quickly toggle between tasks but it cannot do two things at the same time.
A persons ability to process moving objects when listening to someone talking on the phone decreases by a 3rd.
This phenomenon is called ‘Inattention Blindness’.
Drivers talking on mobile phones can miss seeing up to 50% of their driving environment, including pedestrians and red lights.
In effect, they look but they do not see!
The bottom line is that drivers talking on handheld or handsfree mobile phones are 4 times more likely to be involved in an accident.
A persons cognitive vision is not the only thing impaired.
Reaction response times are also significantly reduced.
This study by Transport Research Laboratory shows that texting trebles reaction times compared to driving at the drink drive limit.
Using a handheld mobile means reaction time is almost 50% slower.
To put this another way. It normally takes 75 feet to stop at 30mph. For a driver distracted by their mobile phone this would increase by 37 feet or over 2 and a half car lengths!
And now the Tabloids are starting to take notice of this problem surely it is only a matter of time before the government does too.
Why is it important for employees to know this?
In the UK, since 2003, it has been illegal to ride a motorcycle or drive using handheld devices.
The penalties start with automatic loss of 3 points and a £100 fine but if you have to go to court this can increase to disqualification and a £1,000 fine.
Drivers of buses or goods vehicles can get a maximum fine of £2,500.
These penalties are for just using a mobile phone while driving.
If there is accident you can be prosecuted for careless driving or, if someone is killed, for causing death by careless or dangerous driving. In these cases you are looking at jail time.
Why is this important for employers?
Aside from the personal impact on your employees and the effect on your business operations, employers may also be open to prosecution.
If you cause or permit an employee to drive while using a phone or to not have proper control of the vehicle.
If you require your employees to make or receive calls whilst driving.
If your employees drive dangerously because they are using a phone installed by you.
The penalties in these cases are severe.
So what can you do about this?
Every business should have a mobile phone policy in place and a method for ensuring compliance.
All employees in the company should be included, not just those in the field.
All devices. Mobile phones, tablets, PDA’s.
All vehicles. Company and ‘grey fleet’, where the employee uses their own vehicle on business.
All handheld and handsfree use during working hours for all work-related communications.
But even when you have taken this important step how do you ensure it is being implemented and not abused?
The only effective way to do this is to install software that automatically disables the mobile phone when vehicle movement is detected.
We call this the ‘Gold Standard’.
Businesses can take a leadership role by banning mobile phone use while driving, helping to keep their employees and other road users safe.
Romex’s Driver Protection ensures driver safety and compliance.
Designed for business drivers, it deters speeding, fatigue and distraction.
The app automatically disables a driver’s mobile phone while the vehicle is moving, suppresses email, text and social media notifications and removes the temptation to take your eyes off the road.
Depending on company policy, Bluetooth can be enabled for handsfree calls but all interaction with the handset is blocked while the vehicle is moving.
Romex Driver Protection has a web-based admin so if there are any issues you will be made aware of them in real-time via email or SMS.
- If an employees GPS has been turned off you are notified and can take the appropriate action.
- If an employee has been speeding you can be notified and you are able to replay their entire journey turn-by-turn.
Detailed reporting functionality allows you to view and record all activities.
Driver Protection has been independently tested and highly recommended by the Transport Research Laboratory, the UK’s leading authority on all aspects of transportation.
I would now ask you to consider your own Road Ahead. Is your business prepared to take a leadership position on this important issue?
If you are, we’d be delighted to help you. Why not start your free 30-Day Trial today?