Fleet News

Safety warning on high-tech gadgets

FLEETS are being encouraged to introduce strict guidelines as an increasing number of company car drivers turn their vehicles into ‘mobile offices’ packed with the latest hi-tech gadgets.

Fears have been voiced that new technology, including iPods and satellite navigation units, are a distraction to drivers that could lead to accidents.

Stephen Dilley, managing director of Ryland Unity Vehicle Solutions, said: ‘Business drivers are at particular risk.

‘Often their vehicles become a mobile office, fully fitted with a satellite navigation system, PDA, iPod, speed trap radar and a mobile.

‘These gizmos are just as likely to cause frustration and create a distraction. Companies need to ensure they have in place strict guidelines for the use and fitting of electronic gadgets in company vehicles as part of their duty of care policy.

‘Without these guidelines, firms could be leaving themselves open to lawsuits, should an accident occur through driver distraction.’

Dilley’s comments come as a survey of motorists shows that one in five admit to having swerved out of lane while they attempted to change a CD or fiddled with their instrument panel while on the move.

One in 10 admit to having programmed their satellite navigation units with their desired route while on the move and not before they set off for the journey. Half of those say doing this meant their eyes were off the road.

The results come from a study carried out by Privilege Insurance, which questioned more than 1,900 people.

Managing director Ian Parker said: ‘Drivers are compromising safety by relying on navigation equipment to get them to their destination, rather than familiarising themselves with their route prior to setting off.’

The research also showed that drivers spend up to 10 seconds programming navigation equipment, which when travelling at 60mph means they have travelled twice the length of a football pitch.

Call for roadsign review

CONFUSING road signs are driving motorists to distraction, according to the RAC Foundation. It says many of the signs lining UK roads have been knocked down, obscured or damaged.

Executive director Edmund King is calling for road authorities to review signing and urges motorists to plan journeys to avoid confusion.

He said: ‘With better advanced signing, drivers who don’t know a road will be able to get into the correct entry lane sooner and not have to weave in at the last moment.’

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