Three in every five fleets continue to allow their drivers to use hands-free phones while driving, preferring to offer guidelines on their use rather than imposing an outright ban.
A Fleet News poll revealed that 68% of the fleets who responded have not issued a ban, compared to 55% a year ago when TRL research discovered that using a hands-free phone while driving was more likely to lengthen reaction times than having the UK limit of 80mg of alcohol in the bloodstream.
However, while a majority of fleets have not opted for a ban, many respondents to the poll said they have guidelines in place to limit their use.
Karen Spy, of Burn Stewart Distillers, explained: “We have not banned hands-free phones, but do ask drivers only to use them when stopped.”
Bob Collins, of Dr Oetker, added: “We recommend that drivers do not make calls whilst on the road and when receiving calls they should tell the caller that they will call them back when safe to do so.”
Calls from road safety charities have been mounting to make the use of hands-free phones while driving illegal in the same way handheld devices are.
But David Gill, of JMC IT, questioned whether further legislation was systematic of the nanny state. “What next, a ban on sat nav? They’ll be expecting drivers to memorize the AA map of the British Isles instead,” he said.
Research from the University of Utah revealed drivers on hands-free phones take 20% longer to hit the brakes, following distances rise by 30% as they fail to keep pace with traffic and memory performance fell by 11% (Fleet News, April 15).
The Department for Transport ruled out a review of the ban then and no political party is advocating a ban now.
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “We urge employers to take the lead in making sure staff switch off phones when they switch on engines.”
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