A North West regional meeting of ACFO, the fleet operators’ association, called on manufacturers to introduce safety measures to prevent drivers being able to enter destination details while driving.
One member told delegates: ‘If you don’t know where you are going, then why carry on? You should pull over instead.’
Members also heard concerns that hands-free kits were as serious a distraction as hand-held kits, with some drivers admitting to missing junctions and even their offices when engrossed in conversation.
But they agreed that for some drivers, the danger of hands-free kits was the least of their worries. One manager said: ‘I follow another driver into town every day and she drives along with a bowl of cereal, a mug of coffee and a paper. One of these days I am going to have to get out and tell her the danger she is in.’
Another manager said: ‘I have watched drivers overtake me at 90mph with a copy of The Times spread across their steering wheel, having a good read.’
Last year, exclusive Fleet News research showed how emergency stopping distances rocket because of basic distractions.
When using switches on the dash of a simulator, reaction times were shown to have slowed by a staggering 93% at 60mph.
Overall stopping distances increased from 59.4 metres to 85.2 metres and reaction times almost doubled from 0.751 seconds to 1.447 seconds (Fleet News, April 28, 2005).