Careless talk could cost lives!
In the light of the recent high profile case, where a commercial driver was caught using his mobile phone at the wheel, there is going to be an urgent review of the penalties and consequences for offending drivers and tougher measures are expected.
We all know it is illegal to use a hand-held device whilst driving, stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic and even though there is an automatic fixed penalty notice, the risk of a fine or disqualification if drivers are caught this does not deter some from flouting the law.
Drivers may feel confident that they remain focused and in control of their vehicle when using such devices but the RAC, reporting on the Department for Transport figures, show a staggering 24,610 people were killed or seriously injured on the road in the year ending March 2016, a 2% increase on the previous year.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) research indicates that about 150 people are killed or seriously injured every week in crashes or incidents involving someone who is driving, riding or otherwise using the road for work related purposes.
So, what can employers do to ensure their staff drive safely and within the law? The HSE Guidelines, ’Driving at Work’, states that “health and safety law applies to on-the-road work activities as to all work activities and the risks should be effectively managed within a health and safety system or procedure”. This involves assessing the risks and taking all reasonable and practicable measures to manage those risks.
Whilst organisations may already provide hands-free or bluetooth kits and have a written policy on the use of mobiles phones and other devices, this may not go far enough. Some employees are required to sign to acknowledge such a policy and state that they will not use their mobiles but then still do!
In addition to this, the question remains on the use of hands-free phone/devices whilst driving and whether it causes a mental distraction from road concentration. As even with hands-free, if the Police think you’re distracted or not in control of your vehicle you could still get penalised.
Until the law changes or common sense prevails, it may be time for employers to review working practices to ensure that they promote safe driving. Such methods can include consulting with staff and safety representatives via joint health & safety committee meetings, raising awareness through training and appraisal systems, minimising the number of calls, text messages or emails which are sent to drivers or banning the use of hands-free devices whilst driving completely and encouraging safe journey planning
For further information on a policy, HR advice or guidance please contact SOS-HR 01473 276170.
Please note that the content of this article is for general information only, always take advice and follow the correct procedure.
Source: RosPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) & RAC (Royal Automobile Club)