Companies uncertain about implementing a ban on the use of hands-free mobile phones while driving could consider trialling a ban first of all to assess the impact on the business and drivers. That’s the message from Tracey Scarr, fleet and road safety manager at Arval, which has had a complete ban on mobile phone use in vehicles since the hand-held law changed in December 2003.
There has been much debate recently about the dangers of driving while using a hands free mobile phone. Much of this is in response to mounting pressure from road safety charities who believe that the use of hands free phones while driving should be made illegal in the same way handheld devices are. This is backed up by a report from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) which showed that using a hands-free phone while driving was more likely to lengthen reaction times than having 80mg of alcohol in the bloodstream (the UK limit).
Tracey Scarr explains: “I understand why some companies are concerned about the impact of a complete mobile phone ban in vehicles but in light of this new research I believe it’s time for businesses to at least trial a ban. Even with a small sample of employees from different roles across their business they can assess the true impact on staff and identify the areas that need to be addressed if a ban on hands-free mobiles is implemented. I’m not saying that there won’t be any impact on the way a business communicates with its employees when they are on the road, however the research is convincing and duty of care towards employees must be taken very seriously.”
Scarr continues: “Businesses that have implemented bans are continuing to operate, grow, and be profitable in a world where their staff are safer on the roads and feel better rested as they take regular breaks to check phone messages. They will feel valued and supported if they are not under pressure to take and make calls whilst driving, especially if a business has assessed the impact before introducing a ban, and made appropriate changes to support them in doing their job effectively .Road safety organisations are campaigning for the law to be changed to include hands-free mobiles so why not get ahead of the game?”
Caroline Scurr, Driving for Better Business director at RoadSafe, adds: “Using a mobile phone while driving, hand held or hands free, is extremely dangerous. Research shows that even using a hands free mobile phone causes a level of impairment equivalent to the current drink drive limit. More companies should follow the example set by Arval and ban the use of all phones in their fleets.”