Mobiles distract drivers

UK employees coming under pressure to answer work phone behind the wheel

• AA/Populus research shows 19% don’t think their employers encourage safe and legal mobile phone use while driving
• 7% feel under pressure to answer their hand-held work mobile when driving.
• Employers risking liability in event of a crash, warns AA DriveTech

 

Workers are coming under pressure to take dangerous risks when it comes to using their mobiles when driving for work or commuting, warns AA DriveTech. 

Figures from an AA/Populus survey* show that, of those who drive for work and have a work mobile phone (6, 973), nearly one in five (19%) do not agree their employer actively encourages safe and legal use of mobile phones while driving for work or commuting by car.

Other key findings showed of those who drive for work and have a work mobile phone (6, 973):

• 2% said they have been explicitly told they are expected to return emails, texts and calls when they are driving for work or commuting.
• More than one in twenty (7%) feel under pressure to answer their hand-held work mobile when driving for work or commuting.
• Around one in six (15%) feel under pressure to answer their hands-free work mobile when driving for work or commuting.
• 4% have been criticised by their manager or colleagues for not responding to emails, texts or calls when driving for work or commuting.

Out of all the 22, 194 drivers who responded to the survey, the vast majority (88%) disagreed that it is a fundamentally safe activity to make or take calls while driving. Men (87%) were less likely than women (90%) to think this.

Regionally, drivers in Northern Ireland were the most likely (8%) to disagree that using a hand-held mobile reduces their ability to react to hazards. Drivers in the South West, East, East Midlands and North East were the least likely (5%) to disagree with this.

Employers have a statutory duty of care and, besides the risk to their employees, they are putting themselves at risk of liability and criminal charges in the event of a crash if the company’s actions, or lack of them, is deemed to have contributed to the incident.

Simon Stammers, AA DriveTech Fleet director

But the facts are clear – using a mobile phone behind the wheel, even a hands free version, significantly increases the chances of being involved in a crash.

Besides the dangers posed to the individual taking and receiving calls, texts or emails while driving, companies have a duty of care to employees they should not shirk; at worst they risk facing charges of corporate manslaughter.

Mobile communication has transformed the way people and businesses operate. Staying in touch can save money, produce money, improve safety and help deal with unexpected problems, but mobile phone ‘addiction’ is a recipe for disaster on the road.  Mobile telephones have off switches and message services so drivers are never out of touch for long and can easily catch up once parked safely and sensibly.

Simon Stammers, AA DriveTech Fleet director, said: “We understand that people are often under considerable pressure to be available to their work at all times.
“But, driving is the most dangerous task the majority of employees undertake while at work, so feeling that you have to respond to calls, texts and emails when you are driving is an unnecessary risk. It is especially worrying that some people say they have been explicitly told they should respond to calls, texts and emails when they are driving.

More information about mobile phones and driving for work can be found here: www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/legal-advice/mobile-phones.html
www.theaa.com/aadrivetech/why-act.html


 2 October 2013