Industry experts call for HGV and delivery fleets to adopt new measures to minimise driver distraction
Check, one of UK’s emerging providers of driver and vehicle management, is
urging fleet managers of HGV and delivery vehicles to adopt new measures to
minimise driver distraction, particularly mobile phone and sat nav usage and to
prevent serious road accidents.
recent case* of a lorry driver who killed a woman and three children when his
vehicle ploughed into their stationary car while he was scrolling through music
on his mobile phone, demonstrates the real danger of distractions while
driving. An hour earlier, the driver, had signed a declaration to his employer
promising he would not use his phone at the wheel. (* The Guardian, 31 October
Recent EU data shows that
distraction is a contributory factor in up to 30% of collisions, while research
from TRL found reaction times of drivers talking on a hands-free phone to be
50% slower, than driving under normal conditions. Expert psychologists have also
concluded that the ability to multitask safely while driving a vehicle is a
myth and the most dangerous of driving multitasks is texting and talking on a
Findings from the Institute of
Advanced Motorists (IAM) and the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), show
that multi-tasking can have a detrimental effect on the quality and accuracy of
driving performance. Their research also reveals that three of the five key
areas of distraction to a ‘high’ level; cognitive, visual and manual. A mobile
phone conversation also engages three of five areas of distraction to a ‘high’
level; cognitive, audible and exposure time.
So what should the industry be doing
to minismise distractions behind the wheel? Ocado has recently introduced
technology to police the mobile phone ban. The firm’s delivery vehicles
are fitted with camera systems which record both what happened in front of the
vehicle and inside the cabin if a collision, or harsh braking, has taken place.
This allows the company to see if the driver was on the phone at the time of an
In the US, the mobile phone network, AT&T has produced a free app,
turns on when the vehicle is moving. It silences text message alerts and
automatically replies to them. It also provides access to music and
navigation with one touch.
Brown, Managing Director of Licence Check comments:
“There are a number of services and products available on the market, some of
which prevent texting and calls while others convert text to speech, to avoid
the problem of reading whilst driving.
is clear is that a number of different approaches have been taken. Some involve hardware installed in the car that effectively
‘block’ signals to the phone. Others involve software on the phone with a
Bluetooth link to the vehicle, or motion sensing technology. There are
also industry discussions with vehicle manufacturers as to ways to prevent
mobile use by the driver of a vehicle.
“The AT&T approach, where the mobile carrier provides the
software as part of their package, is a good one. It would be useful if
carriers in the UK used this type of app, with the option for corporate fleet
customers to monitor their employees accounts to ensure the function wasn’t
tampered with or turned off. It’s clear that the threat of penalty
points, convictions and a fine isn’t enough in itself. People are still
taking the risk. Actively preventing phone use and removing the source of
temptation altogether, may be the only workable solution in the long run to
prevent further incidents.”
developed by Licence Check Ltd, takes care of drivers and vehicle compliance in
an easy to use, safe and secure cloud-based system. Taking away the reliance on
an individual remembering to complete the required checks, the system features
flexible reporting, email notifications and calendar functions which will help
reduce administration and will help provide a documented audit trail. The
system is fully flexible and works on a mix and match basis, so users only ever
pay for the services they need.