Do you use your mobile phone behind the wheel?

Published on 07/10/2016

DrivingWe all know making calls on a handheld mobile phone or texting while driving is dangerous, not to mention illegal, but recent research suggests that attitudes towards mobile phone use while driving have taken a worrying turn, with more and more people admitting to breaking the law. 
A number of drivers were surveyed by the
RAC as part of their Report on Monitoring 2016, and 31% of respondents admitted using their mobile while driving, up by a shocking 17% since the last figures were released in 2014.

So why have attitudes to handheld mobile usage in vehicles changed so significantly in the last two years? The research conducted suggested people were checking social media platforms while in traffic jams, as well as taking photos and videos while behind the wheel, among other mobile related activities.

Here at Neva, naturally we were concerned to hear about the findings, as are survey conductors the RAC who are calling for a ‘cultural change’ and investment in a high profile campaign to make drivers more aware of the dangers of using smartphones and other such devices while driving. While the survey noted that the usage of mobiles while on the road increased within the younger age group - where general mobile usage is more widespread and frequent - it’s also important to consider usage figure among employees using vehicles for work purposes.

Although handheld mobile phone usage is dangerous among any group of people in charge of driving a vehicle, employers have the added worry of ensuring they are compliant with duty of care regulations. Employees using mobiles behind the wheel, while travelling in company vehicles that are subsequently involved in an accident, or incident, can cause a significant issue for employers, who need to prove they have taken every possible precaution to ensure their staff are able to safely drive for work purposes and are aware of the company’s expectations while in charge of work vehicles.

One such way employers can minimise the risk of accidents caused by employees choosing to drive for work, is to ensure there is a readily accessible, easy to understand company driving policy in place that details expectations on employees when they are out of the office environment. The policy should include details about mobile phone usage while in a company vehicle, it should also cover a detailed risk assessment, and an audit trail of vehicle related actions carried out by both the employer and employees.

If you are unsure about your obligations as an employer, or whether your business is compliant, you can find out about your duty of care here. You can also contact your Neva account manager who can discuss precautionary measures and what you should be doing to protect your staff and business while your employees are out on the roads.

Further to this worrying trend, it has also recently been revealed that fewer motorists are being caught for surfing the web, texting and general handheld mobile phone usage, despite the increase in usage. The BBC revealed figures had dropped from 178,000 people stopped during the period of 2011-2012, to less than 95,000 in 2015-2016.

It’s not all concerning news though, as Secretary for Transport Chris Grayling recently revealed he will be introducing tougher punishment for those caught driving while operating a smartphone or handheld mobile device. This measure is aimed at cutting the amount of accidents and injuries caused by those driving dangerously due to handheld mobile distractions.

Given that the doubling of fines to £200 and six penalty points system will be introduced for motorists in the UK during the early part of 2017, there’s no better time than the present to ensure your business is operating responsibly. If you have concerns about employees driving while using mobile phones, or wish to discuss your overall compliance and duty of care strategy, speak to a Neva expert today!