The use of phones while driving is reported by the Transport Research Laboratory to have risen to 2.8% in 2008 from 2.6% in 2006.This is despite tougher penalties for offenders. Drivers are four times more likely to have an accident while on the phone and figures released today show 2358 died last year on Britain’s roads.
However most employers still haven’t taken account of the fact that the most dangerous activity they ask their employees to undertake is driving warns HR specialist Judith Fiddler of Direct Law & Personnel. She comments “only a tiny percentage of employers make any kind of risk assessment.”
“They should be aware that the same regulations that make it illegal to drive whilst using a mobile phone also make it illegal for employers of workers to cause their employees to commit these offences whilst on either work related activities or if the phone call itself relates to work. Criminal and civil penalties can result.”
Judith, who is also a magistrate in Manchester, has also seen a rise in cases of mobile phone use while driving coming before the court.
Whilst the risks of driving related issues are great the precautions can be very simple. A set of basic rules, properly implemented and followed by staff can reduce employer’s exposure and also help protect their employees.
Any organisation that has employees who drive for business and where there is any chance that they may either have to or will be tempted to use their phone whilst driving needs to minimize their risks. Here are 5 simple steps that are recommended by Judith:
- Include a simple line stating the company’s stance in all employee terms and conditions
- Ensure there is a mobile phone policy in your employee manual that employees are aware of and have signed to receive
- Ensure that your policy is used as part of your induction process and is signed for when an employee receives a company car
- Carry out regular spot checks and ensure any accidents are investigated thoroughly (including accessing mobile phone records)
- Issue best practice guidelines
The Health and Safety Executive have produced their own guidelines on driving at work. These rules are simple to apply and put into place. An example of a standard Mobile Phone Drivers Policy is also available free from DLP via email or by calling 0844 8151 6151. This can form the basis for introducing a suitable company policy at your organisation.