A fifth of firms say drivers in accidents due to using handheld phones at the wheel
One in five (19%) UK firms say their employees have been
involved in an accident while driving for work due to using a handheld phone at
the wheel, according to new research, which also revealed that many fleets have
no mobile phone policy in place.
RAC Business has revealed the findings from its survey of
1,000 UK businesses, carried out across all fleet sizes and sectors, to
highlight current attitudes to handheld mobile phone use and driving for work.
A year after increased penalties were introduced for
using handheld phones at the wheel on 1 March, 2017, the research found 15% of
businesses admitted their drivers were ‘often involved’ in accidents while
using a handheld phone. Additionally, 5% even said it happened ‘on a regular
RAC Business said one of the contributing factors could
be that four in 10 (38%) businesses said they expected commercial drivers to
answer calls while on the road. For larger businesses (500 to 1000 employees)
that figure rose to 49%.
However, almost a third (30%) of businesses of all sizes
don’t provide legally compliant hands-free kits and 20% have no policy for
mobile phone use while driving.
The results of the survey prompted calls from RAC
Business for fleets and business owners to highlight the dangers of using a
hand-held phone at the wheel to their employees and to 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, which
was launched to encourage motorists to pledge not to use their handheld phone
or smart device at the wheel, said the law was clear on the issue.
He said: “It is illegal to use a hand-held 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
“The use of hands-free kits is within the law and that
can provide a legal and safer solution for businesses, which is how many
different businesses operate.
“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.
“Our survey says 70% of employers do provide hands-free
kits, but in our view that still needs to be much higher, and every business
should have a clear code of conduct or policy for drivers.
“However just because it’s legal to use a hands-free kit,
it doesn’t necessarily means it’s always safe to do so, and it certainly
shouldn’t be used to have long conference calls or to proactively make lots of
calls on a long journey.
“It should always be down to the driver in terms of how
they feel about taking a call and they should only do so if they judge it to be
safe and not causing them a distraction.
“In the same survey we asked businesses whether it was
important to uphold their ‘duty of care’ towards their company drivers and 92%
agreed it was.
“Therefore businesses need to have a policy in
place which is not only clear in the expectations of their drivers, but also
needs to have a high profile in the business to ensure the message is getting