Advice on Setting up a Mobile Phone/Cellphone Policy for Work Related Driving

Robert Gifford, Executive Director of the UK Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) was recently interviewed for the Fleet Safety Podcast. Rob provided some useful advice for organisations on on complying with legilsation relating to the use of mobile phones/cellphones, within the context of driving for work. Whilst his comments relate to the UK, they will be of interest to readers in other countries.

“The fundamental thing there is that if you now are caught using a handheld mobile phone you can expect to be fined and get three penalty points on your license. That’s meant a very significant increase in the number of people with penalty points for that offence. I think from an employer’s point of view the question an employer would be asking is ‘do my employees really need to be using their phone while they’re driving?’ and research-wise it doesn’t matter whether it’s handheld or hands-free, both kinds of phone cause distraction not just while the call is going on but also after you’ve finished the call while you’re actually replaying that conversation in your mind.

Good companies have said ‘actually we’re going to have a policy here that our staff will not be allowed to take calls while they’re driving’. It’s difficult when you are a sales driven company because your sales force may well say ‘how am I going to know whether my appointment is being kept, how am I going to know about that important contract I’m trying to sign?’ but those companies fundamentally committed to safety will say ‘no, we’re not going to impose extra risk on you and we’re not going to allow you potentially to impose extra risk on others, we’re going to ban the use of the mobile phone while you are behind the wheel. You can check it when you’ve parked and you can check it when you’ve parked in a safe place’.”

Rob also touched on the challenge for the fleet directors/safety directors who have to obtain buy in from senior management and other divisional heads.

“I’m certainly not saying it’s going to be an easy task, because I think yes the fleet manager may think it’s a good idea, the HR manager may think it’s a good idea because it will reduce the chances of people being off work for sickness or injury but the sales floors and the sales director will be very concerned about it. What I think you can point to is that there are companies where it has been implemented 3M, Michelin for example. I’m not aware that their profits have collapsed as a result of a mobile phone ban, in fact probably their profits may have increased because their sales staff can concentrate on getting to the appointment on time rather than being distracted by taking calls while they are on route, so it’s not an easy sell if you like within the company particularly not in the current economic times but it is one that morally and from a research point of view is absolutely the right way to go.”

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