Mike Waters' blog: 19 May 2010 - Driven to distraction
19 May 2010
Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval
There has been much debate recently about the dangers of driving while using a hands-free mobile phone. Much of this debate 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).
In some forums I have seen, some motorists have been quite dismissive of this and seem to feel that their personal freedom is being taken away, with responses like 'what are they going to try and stop me from doing next'. But what I would say to those people is that the only aim the road safety charities have is to try and reduce accidents and deaths on our roads, they aren't trying to inconvenience people.
At a recent RoadSafe meeting, TRL said that they were seeing high numbers of people texting behind the wheel. The fact is that the new breed of technologies like iPhones and Blackberries make us so dependent on them that we feel we can't live our lives without them but we must set that aside and drive without them. Driving takes 100% of our attention and there is no room for complacency. For most of us it is the most dangerous thing we do every day.
I do feel able to take a strong stance on this because at Arval we introduced a complete ban on mobile phones while driving as soon as the law changed in December 2003. So for over six years at Arval we have all managed perfectly well to conduct business without using our phones behind the wheel. Therefore we support road safety charities such as RoSPA who say that employers should ensure that mobiles are switched off when engines are switched on.
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