RAC calls on businesses to be clear on mobile phone law for commercial drivers
The RAC is warning businesses of the dangers of using handheld mobile phones at the wheel, as new research revealed almost four out of ten (38%) firms expect colleagues to take calls when they are on the road.
The new research by RAC Business surveyed 1,000 UK firms about their attitudes to mobile phone use while at work, and also one in four (26%) drivers are not aware of a company policy or guidance on mobile phone use at the wheel.
At the same time more than a third (37%) of business drivers say the use of handheld mobiles while at the wheel is among the biggest concerns for them when on the road.
The use of handheld mobile phones, and other connected devices, has been illegal since 2003 and now carries a maximum penalty of six points and a £200 fine.
However, according to the findings of the RAC research, businesses still expect their staff drivers to take calls when on the road for work. This is despite the fact that 20% of those firms admit their colleagues have been involved in an accident due to using a phone at the wheel.
While businesses clearly rely on mobile phones and devices to operate - whether it’s staying in touch with customers or receiving job information while on the move - the RAC is campaigning for all motorists to stay within the law when it comes to mobile phones and motoring.
Rod Dennis, spokesman for the RAC’s Be Phone Smart campaign, said employers have a duty of care to ensure their drivers are not putting themselves in danger or breaking the law by using handheld phones at the wheel.
The law is clear on this issue, and has been for some time, it is illegal to use a handheld phone while driving. But at the same time businesses need to stay in touch with drivers and commercial vehicle drivers need to stay in touch with customers. The use of hands-free kits is within the law and that can provide a legal and safer solution for businesses, which is how RAC itself operates. If employers expect their company drivers and staff to take calls on the road, which 38% say 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.
The RAC also warns against relying on hands-free kits to use a mobile phone for extended periods of time, and says they should only be used when necessary.
Mr Dennis adds:
In our view, 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. 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 through.
For more information about the RAC’s Be Phone Smart campaign and what you can do to support as a business, go to: www.bephonesmart.uk