NEWS

Commercial Vehicles and Mobile Phones

It has been illegal since 2003 to use a mobile phone behind the wheel of a vehicle, yet despite this thousands of motorists are caught a year doing just that. With the new changes that came into effect on 1 March this year drivers can see much harsher penalties for breaking this important law.

Penalties have increased to reflect the life changing damage that can be done by a distracted driver. In a study by the NSC it was revealed that 1 in 4 accidents are caused by the use of mobile phones. “The use of mobile phones” – not just text messaging. In fact text messaging accounted for only 5% of all mobile phone related incidents. The other causes are things we might not even realise are classified as mobile phone use; skipping a song on Itunes, taking a photo, recording around you.

Living in the 21st Century can be difficult; there are certain social expectations of us to be in contact with each other almost constantly. This is a huge undeniable risk for not only people who spend more than 50% of their day driving, but also their employers.

With these changes having come into effect, the people most likely to be affected, if not already, are Commercial Vehicle drivers. People who survive off their ability to be able to drive a vehicle.

Drivers who are caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel of a vehicle can now face an automatic £200 fine and 6 demerit points. Note this would mean for a driver who has been driving for less than 2 years, this would result in a complete loss of licence.

Not only can a driver be penalised, but also their employer. If it is deemed that an employer permitted or caused the use of a mobile phone behind the wheel of a vehicle, they in theory can be persecuted.

Commercial vehicles account for more than 4 million vehicles on British roads, and we as a community need to make sure that we are keeping the roads as safe as we possibly can. Commercial Vehicles are heavier and larger than most vehicles and a distracted driver could cause much more damage in a van as opposed to a car.

There is so much technology now that can enable us to make any necessary changes to increase our safety. Things as simple as putting your phone into “do not disturb” mode, where your phone will suppress any texts, calls or notifications. Or more advanced technology like Volkswagens “ConnectedVan” which is comprised of many fleet management tools, including the ability to sync a driver log with mobile phone usage. The benefit of this being able to ensure drivers aren’t using their phones whilst driving, or if they are, being able to address it quickly.

The point of all of this, is that there are so many options for fleet managers / drivers to make sure that they are doing everything they can to make our roads as safe as possible. And the laws that have now come into effect, really do have the ability to affect our lives, so now is the time to start making positive changes to our commercial vehicle fleets.

Why wouldn’t we?

 

Brit Wagstaff

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