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Managing fleets: The dangers of mobile phone usage

Posted by Gordon Brown on Mar 14, 2019 9:00:00 AM


For every fleet, many threats exist at any given time. The good news is that threats related to driver behaviour are avoidable, including the usage of mobile phones while driving.

Addressing phone usage among fleet drivers is essential to building a safety-conscious business culture and meeting your legal Health and Safety responsibilities. Distracted driving can lead to deadly accidents. By warning your fleet drivers about the dangers, you’ll lower accident risk while potentially saving lives.

Learn all you need to know about Driver Training here.

In this blog, we discuss the risks of mobile phones while driving. Share this information with your drivers, and you’ll go a long way towards lowering fleet risk and ensuring employee safety.

Why mobile phones are dangerous behind the wheel

Driving is a complex skill that demands constant attention, quick reaction times, and the ability to think ahead. Mobile phone usage reduces a driver’s focus on the road, which instantly increases the risk of a collision.

The dangers of calling and texting while driving are never worth the risk. The facts prove this point:

  • Between 2003 - 2008, mobile phone usage was partly to blame for 25 fatal collisions and 482 crashes that caused injury.
  • Between 1 Nov 2009 and 8 Dec 2010, 182 crashes were caused by drivers using phones, resulting in 5 fatalities, 12 serious injuries and 46 minor injuries.
  • Phone usage can impair drivers as much as being at the legal blood/alcohol limit, and can raise accident risk up to 400%.

Current laws against mobile phone use while driving

Driving while using phones was outlawed in 2009. The Road User Rule generally bans initiating or receiving phone calls, texts, and video messages, and prohibits other ways of using phones, while driving. Violations earn an $80 fine and 20 demerit points. 

The Rule does allow hands-free calls — for example, with Bluetooth, or when the driver quickly operates a mounted phone by hand. It also permits drivers to report emergencies or bad road conditions by calling 111 or *555 when there’s no practical way to stop and park.

Possible solutions for fleets

While the Road User Rule does permit some hands-free phone usage, companies relying on a mobile workforce must be even more careful.

One way forward is to create a zero-tolerance fleet policy that prohibits all mobile phone usage behind the wheel, including even hands-free calls, except in emergencies. Hands-free phone operation can also be distracting and dangerous.

Another method is to use apps that send messages to anybody who contacts fleet drivers while they are on the road. Such messages can let the other party know the driver is unavailable, letting drivers respond when off-duty or after safely pulling over.

How SurePlan’s driver training makes for a safety-conscious fleet

Rules and technology can only go so far. In order to minimise road incidents and fulfil your legal H&S obligations, fleet drivers must be trained in the risks of mobile phones and commit to avoiding them. 

Through our own e-learning system, Driving Safer, and the video-based online coaching program FleetCoach, SurePlan offer an accessible, simple-to-use driver training methodology that up-skills fleets in safe driving choices, avoiding distractions, awareness of road hazards, and other key areas. 

This way, you can ensure each driver learns how phone usage impairs driving ability, the role it often plays in deadly accidents, and your company rules for road safety. Ultimately, solid driver training will help you hold individual drivers accountable, minimise costly accidents, and lower overall fleet risk. 

No fleet can afford to ignore the risks of phone usage behind the wheel. Be proactive by informing drivers of the risks and ensuring you have the right fleet policies, technologies, and driver training in place. In doing so you’ll reduce accidents, maintain a well-functioning fleet, and most importantly, keep your employees and other motorists safe.

Is your fleet compliant with Health & Safety legislation? Click here to take our quiz and find out!

Topics: Driver Training, Managing Fleet

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