As our world becomes increasingly connected, are our drivers become increasingly distracted?
Driver distraction is a leading contributory factor in many road traffic related incidents and, in recent years, as people and vehicles have become more ‘connected’, we have seen an increase in the amount of serious collisions taking place.
Often the finger is pointed at the driver straight away and this can often be unfair. For example, I am aware of one person who has been run over twice, in the same car park while using his smart phone as a pedestrian!
Now here is the thing, the more connected we get, the more we get stuck on using our smart phones, tablets and other devices. We get out of our cars with our phone in hand ready to look at social media or see what emails we’ve missed whilst we have been driving. If we get on a bus or train, we connect our tablet and communicating with the office.
Sometimes we even go to the pub and ignore the friends and family we’ve gone out with lets just see what our other friends are up to! If you don’t think my observations are correct, take a look around you now if you’re in a public space and see how many people are sat in a group staring at their phones.
Its no different when we’re driving. Did you know that if you look at your phone while driving at 50mph for 2 seconds, you will have travelled 150ft / 46 meters. We are almost at a point where we can’t survive without this technology. I’m sure there will be many psychologists who will agree that the more connected we become to the world, the more real social skills break down.
Imagine you are driving into work. You’re in heavy traffic…stop…start…it goes on. It’s the daily grind of the commute. You get bored and out pops your phone. You tell yourself it doesn’t matter as you’re stuck in traffic BUT NOW YOU’RE COMMITTING AN OFFENCE. And it has some serious consequences - six points on your license and £200 in fines.
Did you know that for your employer, things can get a whole lot worse though? If you’re in a company car – or even your own car but they pay for its use – even by paying some mileage or some fuel, they are now liable for it being used on company business and so now they have permitted you to use your phone while driving, whoops. Now perhaps your job is also on the line.
As an employer, there are a host of things to consider when you want to protect your business and your employees from being distracted when driving. Do you have a policy in place for driving at work – not just for your delivery drivers but also for anyone else who drives on business? Does it cover the use of mobile phones, taking and receiving calls? Email? Use of social media? How your delivery drivers use the Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) you fitted?
Then there are those other little bits of the connected world that come into the driver’s space to distract them. For example, do you allow the screen on the sat nav to be on? Do you allow email and text messaging to be forwarded to ‘wearable devices’ so that they can be read?
For many employers, this is becoming more and more complex as under HSE (Health & Safety Executive) Duty of Care they can be held liable if something goes wrong. While technology can be used to assist employers in covering their duty of care, the need for a good strong policy that is then followed and absorbed into the culture of the business goes a long way to protect a business.
Sadly, over 80% of business in the UK do not have a driving for work policy in place and leave themselves liable to claims being made against them by third parties, or even criminal proceedings being taken against them.
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