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David Brennan's blog: How can tech deter people from using mobiles behind the wheel?

Date: 09 June 2017

Despite harsher penalties introduced in March to prevent people from using handheld mobile phones while driving, it seems from new statistics that legislation alone isn't going to be enough to deter people, so something else needs to be done...

As a nation we are quite clearly hooked on our mobiles with a Freedom of Information request this week revealing that almost 6,000 drivers have already flouted the new rules and been caught using their phones while driving in the four weeks following 1 March when the standard penalty was doubled to six points and a £200 fine.

Last year, RAC's 'Report on Motoring' estimated that 11 million people had admitted receiving or making a call while driving and worryingly, this trend shows no sign of slowing with a driver currently caught using their phone on average every seven minutes. It's unsurprising that the highest number of penalties were issued in Greater London with a third of all offences committed here.

The message needs to get across to drivers that it's unacceptable to use a handheld device while operating a vehicle, no matter where they are.

I understand the need to make business calls while driving. Although hands-free devices can boost productivity on the move and provide access to essential communications, research conducted by road safety charity, Brake, in partnership with the University of Sussex, shows driver reaction times can be up to 50 per cent slower when using a hands-free kit. Police can still penalise a driver if they believe they are being distracted by a hands-free device so drivers must ensure these are set up and ready to go before they set off.

Mobile phone and car manufacturers are developing technology that enables drivers to access key functions while on the move. Android offers an auto-reply feature which can be synced with vehicles to provide automated responses to texts while more extreme solutions include blocking in-car phone signal completely.  

In this era of heightening technology, fleet managers need to strike a balance between adding the latest gadgets to vehicles and maintaining their duty of care to employees.

While communication on-the-go is important, businesses and drivers need to take more responsibility to resist the temptation to check that email, respond to a text or make a call from a handheld device while at the wheel. With a range of new technology emerging to help drivers be productive - and safe - while on the move, is it time mobiles took a back seat?

David Brennan is CEO at Nexus Vehicle Rental,



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