More than two-thirds (68%) of UK businesses are worried
their employees are using mobile phones to text or access the internet while
driving for work, research by TomTom Telematics has revealed.
The study, among senior managers in 400 companies with
five employees or more, also found 33% of organisations had not taken steps to
prevent employees from using mobile phones while driving, whether through
specific policies, training or education.
That is despite the introduction of harsher penalties for
people caught using their mobile phone while driving, which came into force on 1
standard fine doubled from £100 to £200 and drivers can now be given a penalty
of six points on their licence.
The World Health Organisation 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,” said Beverley Wise,
director UK and Ireland at TomTom Telematics. “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 allowed hands-free use of mobile phones by employees driving for business
purposes. However, studies have shown that talking on a hands-free phone could
be as distracting as talking on a hand-held mobile.
Ms Wise added: “There is evidence to suggest hands-free
use of mobile phones can be highly distracting so businesses should consider
this when deciding how far policies extend.
“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.”