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Despite harsher penalties, in the UK, for mobile phone use while driving (an instant £200 fine and six penalty points) many drivers still admit to doing it.
According to a 2017 survey, one in five drivers say they have used a mobile phone while driving. This figure is likely to be far higher. However, a recent Green Flag survey found that over 60% of motorists had witnessed a driver using a device (mobile, tablet, laptop) while at the wheel. Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that some 200 motorists a day are caught using their mobile phones.
Clearly, despite the possible penalties, that can increase to up to £2,500 for lorry and bus drivers, UK motorists just can’t seem to put their devices down.
This is naturally a cause for concern for all road users, but for fleet-reliant businesses the stakes are even higher. The sight of a driver on a mobile behind the wheel is not only bad for your reputation, it could have a more direct impact on your bottom line too. Persistent phone use can lead to a lengthy driving ban, which could cause downtime and a costly recruitment and training process to replace a disqualified driver.
Then there’s the potential for accidents. Drivers who use their phones behind the wheel are up to four times more likely to be involved in a road accident. Studies have also shown that driving while using a mobile phone increases the likelihood of aggressive driving, hard braking, impaired judgement and delayed braking and acceleration. All behaviours that are likely to increase the risk of accident.
Fleet-reliant business owners have a duty of care not just to protect their drivers but also other road users. Part of this must include measures to eliminate unauthorised mobile phone use while driving and reduce the risk of associated accidents.
This means encouraging drivers to keep phones out of reach while driving, never suggesting they take calls while at the wheel (unless via hands-free) and making use of tracking technologies to monitor driver location and ETAs without having to make direct contact.
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