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Can fleet managers stamp out mobile phone use behind the wheel?

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Road safety campaigners have backed a fresh government crackdown on drivers who use mobile phones when behind the wheel. This morning, the government announced that it was to double penalties for the offence. Drivers who are caught using their phone while on the road will be fined £200 and will also have six points added to their licence. IAM RoadSmart welcomed the move, but insisted that education was key to improving driver conduct.

This also raises the question of what fleet managers can do to ensure that their employees don't use their mobile phone while driving. There are a number of steps which fleet managers can take, and here are some of the most important:

  1. Adopt a tough and firm policy in relation to mobile phone usage while driving. This is one of the most effective measures fleet managers can take to eradicate the problem in their organisation, provided it's properly enforced. This policy would have to apply to all levels of the organisation - from the shop floor to the boardroom, as it were - to ensure that it has legitimacy in the eyes of the whole workforce.
  2. Clear consequences must follow breaches of the policy. It's not much good putting a zero-tolerance policy in place if drivers know that flouting it won't come with serious penalties. Drivers must be made aware that anyone who is found to have breached the policy will be heavily punished for the transgression. Only this way will they take it seriously.
  3. Develop training to emphasise the dangers of mobile phone use while driving. Education is essential to enhancing road safety. The onus is therefore on employers to ensure that their drivers have a thorough understanding of just how dangerous it is to be distracted by a mobile phone while on the road. Effective fleet driver training can play an important role.
  4. Use data to assemble a risk profile of individual drivers. Telematics provides fleet managers with unprecedented insights in to driver conduct on the road. What's more, it's increasingly going mobile - with more and more apps being used by fleet managers to acquire more data. Apps which track mobile phone usage can therefore give fleet managers an idea about when these handsets are being used - making it far easier to identify those who breach the relevant company policy.

With awareness of this issue currently so prominent in the public arena, it's all the more important that businesses are seen to be taking action. These four steps provide the outline for a robust strategy to curb mobile phone use while driving. Vigilant monitoring and consistent application of that policy will be essential to make it work, however.

 


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