All company drivers at GE Capital UK have voluntarily opted not use a phone if they are driving on company business. This includes speaker phones, hands-free kits and Bluetooth devices.
The news follows Pirelli’s move to ban its drivers from using hands-free mobile phones whilst driving and ordering all new cars without Bluetooth where possible (Fleet News May 27).
However GE has not imposed a mandatory ban. “It is has not been necessary to enforce a mandatory ban, but this is something under constant review,” said a spokesman.
GE is also continuing to order new cars with Bluetooth connections for “employee safety and work requirements when stationary”.
The company said it expects this voluntary ban to prove successful, but should it not then a mandatory ban is not off the agenda.
“The safety of our employees and other road users is of utmost importance to us, which is why we want to limit the use of mobile phones while driving as much as possible,” said John Jenkins, CEO GE Capital UK. “It is vital that all drivers remain focused on driving when they are behind the wheel and we hope that our actions assist our drivers in doing so.”
The use of mobile phones while behind the wheel remains a major concern for fleet managers.
It is one of the top three fleet priorities businesses are looking at tackling when it comes to managing fleet risk according to the latest Company Car Trends Report by GE Capital Fleet Services.
It found that 65% of respondents cited the use of mobile phones while driving as one of the issues that they are currently taking into consideration.
It also found that the use of mobile phones is now higher up the fleet safety agenda than corporate manslaughter legislation.
At a recent ACFO annual conference, PC Richard Biffin of the Staffordshire police Collision Investigation Unit warned fleets that talking on the phone will be looked at severely if the driver is involved in a crash.
Phones would be analysed in the event of an accident to establish whether the driver was using it at the time, or just prior to the incident, he warned.
“We will be able to tell if you are on the phone – whether it is hand-held or hands-free – you can be charged with dangerous driving,” he said.
The GE report also found that while 89% of respondents already have mobile phone policies in place, a significant proportion (69%) are now turning their focus towards the associated risk management and duty of care.
Therefore, as employers increasingly look to the safety of their employees it may lead to a growing number of fleets banning the use of mobile phones in vehicles altogether.