Is the expectation to be ‘always on’ driving more people to use their mobile phones whilst driving?
You know using your mobile phone whilst driving is illegal. Get caught and it’s 6 points on your licence and a £200 fine. If you’re a newly qualified driver, you’ll lose your licence. We’ve always encouraged drivers of our rental vehicles to stick to the law and avoid using phones at the wheel.
And yet, more and more people for whom driving is a major part of their working day say they are pressurised to be ‘always on’, always contactable by their employer, and that includes when they’re driving.
The Driving for Better Business report by Highways England found 49% of business leaders expect their employees to answer their phones – even when driving. 45% of employees said they felt pressurised to answer, and 61% said they do not always find somewhere safe to park and take the call.
To be clear, we’re not talking about using voice commands or hands-free kit – this is handheld use of the phone.
Bizarrely, one in 20 executives and one in eight employees thought the hard shoulder was a reasonable place to stop and take a call. And 17% said a call from a colleague had caused them to be involved in an accident.
Pressure no defence
You can appreciate the driver’s dilemma. Don’t answer the call and you may never know about the change of plan, the new job that’s just come in or the drop off you need to make along your existing route. Answering the call, it seems, is also the safest way to avoid a roasting from many a business leader next time you see them.
But none of that will be a defence if you’re caught using your phone at the wheel. And none of that was a defence in the 33 fatal accident cases caused by mobile phone use in 2017.
Put the phone out of harm’s way
The problem is that it’s really difficult to ignore a phone that’s ringing away on the seat next to you or buzzing away in your pocket. So if you’re driving one of our rental vans or hire cars and you don’t have voice activation or the vehicle’s Bluetooth enabled (i.e. if you have to use your hands to answer the phone) put it somewhere you can’t hear or see it. Leave it in a pocket of your bag or briefcase and put it in the boot or the back of the van.
Yes, you may miss a call from a new customer or your boss. But you’ll increase your chances of staying safe.