Businesses Fear Staff Using Phones While Driving

More than two-thirds (68%) of UK businesses are concerned their employees are using smart phones access the internet or text while driving for work.

The study by TomTom Telematics also found that 33% of organisations still have not taken steps to prevent employees from using mobile phones while driving, whether through specific policies, training or education.

Beverley Wise, director UK and Ireland at TomTom Telematics, said: "The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called mobile phone use a ‘serious and growing threat to road safety’ and these results further highlight the extent of the problem faced by businesses.

“It’s a problem employers’ must tackle, however, if they are to demonstrate a genuine commitment to the wellbeing of their staff.

“A clear policy on the use of mobile phones should form part of a best practice approach to road safety, but cultural change is also vital.

"Ingrained habits are hard to break but continuous training, education and communication can help to change employees’ mindsets and encourage a greater focus on safe driving.”

The research also revealed that 68% of organisations still allow hands-free use of mobile phones by employees driving for business purposes.

However, studies have shown that talking on a hands-free phone can be as distracting as talking on a hand-held mobile.

Wise added: "Technology such as telematics can also play an important role in helping to identify when employees are driving distracted by continuously monitoring performance. Incidences of harsh steering or braking, for example, might be indicative of greater problems that require attention.”

Source: Fleet News

Penalty increase for mobile phone use in UK

It has been illegal in the UK to use a hand held mobile phone while driving, or while stopped with the engine on, since December 2003.

As from the 1st March 2017, the penalty for using a hands held mobile device to make a call or send a text message increases for three to six penalty points and a fine from £100 to £200.

There's worldwide evidence that using any sort of phone has a considerable effect on collision risk, and can have a major bearing on whether or not you could be found guilty of careless or dangerous driving.

The THINK! campaign has also produced a variety of downloads to help you share the message of the dangers of using mobile phones whilst driving. These resources also aim to inform all drivers about the tougher handheld mobile phone legislation that is now in effect.

Source: Driving for Better Business

Study Shows Hands-free Mobile Use Just As Distracting

“The only ‘safe’ phone in a car is one that’s switched off.”

A study carried out by psychologists at the University of Sussex, published in the Transportation Research journal, found that drivers having conversations which sparked their visual imagination detected fewer road hazards than those who didn’t. 

The study, which tracked eye movements, found that drivers who were distracted suffered from “visual tunnelling.” They tended to focus their eyes on a small central region directly ahead of them. This led them to miss hazards in their peripheral vision. Undistracted participants’ eye movements ranged over a much wider area

The researchers found that conversations may use more of the brain’s visual processing resources than previously understood. Having a conversation which requires the driver to use their visual imagination creates competition for the brain’s processing capacity, which results in drivers missing road hazards that they might otherwise have spotted.

Dr Graham Hole, senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sussex, said: “A popular misconception is that using a mobile phone while driving is safe as long as the driver uses a hands-free phone. Our research shows this is not the case. Hands-free can be equally distracting because conversations cause the driver to visually imagine what they’re talking about. This visual imagery competes for processing resources with what the driver sees in front of them on the road".

“Our findings have implications for real-life mobile phone conversations. The person at the other end of the phone might ask “where did you leave the blue file?”, causing the driver to mentally search a remembered room. The driver may also simply imagine the facial expression of the person they’re talking to.

Dr Hole said: “Conversations are more visual than we might expect, leading drivers to ignore parts of the outside world in favour of their inner ‘visual world’ – with concerning implications for road safety.”

Dr Hole says anything which causes drivers to imagine something visually, including passengers, can interfere with driving performance because the two tasks compete for similar processing resources.

He said: “However, chatty passengers tend to pose less of a risk than mobile phone conversations. They will usually moderate the conversation when road hazards arise. Someone on the other end of a phone is oblivious to the other demands on the driver and so keeps talking. And talking in person involves non-verbal cues which ease the flow of conversation. Phone conversations are more taxing because they lack these cues.”

Source: University of Sussex Study

Driver Distraction - New Brake Survey Report

For most people, driving for work is likely to be the most dangerous activity they do on a daily basis. Even a momentary lapse in concentration can have devastating consequences. Distractions such as mobile phones are proven to severely impair driving ability, causing slower reaction times and difficulty controlling speed and lane position. Other distractions such as eating and drinking, adjusting controls and smoking also increase crash risk.

The 220 organisations that responded to the latest Brake Fleet Safety Forum survey operate fleets of all sizes and vehicle types.  They are responsible for thousands of drivers and vehicles around the globe. 

Almost all fleet managers surveyed (98%) take some form of action on mobile phone risk. Almost three in 10 (28%) have banned all mobile phone use, including hands-free, while driving. However almost half (48%) of fleets have built-in communication devices in their vehicles, such as two-way radios or built-in hands-free kits, and only one in three (35%) of these instruct drivers not to use them while driving.

One in seven (14%) employers surveyed monitor phone use to ensure compliance with their policies, and nearly six in 10 (58%) educate drivers on the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving.

For more on this Report and Brake's Fleet Safety Forum, click here