Road safety charity calls on fleets to tackle distracted driving

Brake, the road safety charity, is calling on fleet operators to crackdown on mobile phone use at the wheel, as fewer than half (38%) of respondents in its annual Fleet Safety Survey have an organisation-wide policy banning all employees from using hands-free phones at the wheel.

This year's Fleet Safety Survey, conducted with the support of Licence Bureau, covered the six key areas of the Brake Pledge:

  • Slow - within speed limits
  • Sober - free from alcohol or drugs
  • Sharp - not tired, ill or with poor eyesight
  • Silent - phone off and out of reach
  • Secure - belted up in a safe vehicle
  • Sustainable - only when you have to

Driving is a highly unpredictable and risky activity, which requires your full attention at all times. Drivers who perform a secondary task at the wheel are two to three times more likely to crash [1].

Whilst the number of respondents who have an organisation-wide policy banning all mobile phone use, including hands free, has increased since Brake's last survey on this topic (2013) from three in ten respondents to four in ten, Brake is urging all companies to adopt such policies, given research shows that the call itself is the main distraction [2].

Technological innovation means an increasing amount of in-vehicle systems for drivers to interact with, such as sat-nav or GPS, Bluetooth and touch-screen displays, yet just 44% of respondents have a policy that drivers should not adjust, or communicate using, any of their in-vehicle technology while driving.

Many drivers allow themselves to be distracted because they believe they are in control, and do not believe distraction poses a significant risk [3]. However, 98% are not able to divide their attention without significant deterioration in driving performance [4]. It is essential that organisations have policies in place that ban drivers from using mobile phones at the wheel.

More than 200 fleet operators completed this survey; the majority of respondents are from the UK, with responses also coming from fleets based in Australasia, Asia, Africa, North America, and mainland Europe. Respondents manage a total of more than 190,000 vehicles including mopeds, cars, vans, trucks, and buses, and more than 170,000 employees driving for work. The size of the fleets varied: the smallest were single-vehicle operators; the largest had over 80,000 vehicles.

Other key survey findings include:

  • Fewer than one in ten respondents (8%) prioritise environmental concerns when making vehicle purchasing and leasing decisions.
  • Only three in ten (33%) require a full eyesight test for all new staff who drive for work, or proof they had one recently.
  • Only one in ten (12%) have vehicle safety ratings as their top priority when making purchasing and leasing decisions.
  • Only five in ten respondents (53%) strongly agree that their organisation sees licence checking as a priority.
  • Three in ten respondents (31%) don't provide any training, even at a remedial level, on staying within legal speed limits.

The complete Fleet Safety Survey report is available as a free resource for Brake Professional members. It is also available for free to the first 10 organisations who request a copy by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Caroline Perry, Brake's NZ director, says: "Distraction is a factor in many crashes, and drivers who divide their attention are significantly increasing their risk of being involved in a crash. All organisations with staff who drive for work should include distraction in their fleet safety policy and put measures in place to discourage drivers from putting themselves and others at risk.

"The Brake Pledge covers key areas of managing occupational road risk, including distraction, so this year's fleet safety survey gives a great snapshot of the policies and procedures that fleets have in place to manage these areas of risk. I urge fleet operators to see how their company measures up compared to our survey respondents, and to identify the areas of road risk management where you can improve your practices."

Mike Reed, marketing director at Licence Bureau, says: "This year's Brake Pledge is a great focal point for fleet management, especially when the findings of the fleet safety survey highlight many qualified areas for improvement. Take your time read through it. See what you are missing and where you can make a difference."

[1] The impact of driver inattention on near-crash/crash risk, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006
[2] Using a hands-free mobile whilst driving can be more dangerous than drink driving, Transport Research Laboratory, 2009
[3] Driver distraction, RoSPA, 2007
[4] Supertaskers: Profiles in extraordinary multitasking ability, University of Utah, 2010

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