A fifth of UK businesses say their employees have been involved in a crash while using a mobile phone while driving.
Exactly a year since the penalty for the offence was strengthened new data shows that a worrying number of accidents are still being caused by drivers flouting the law.
Since March 1, 2017 the penalty for using a handheld phone at the wheel has been a Â£200 fine and six penalty points yet a series of studies has found a hardcore of drivers ignoring the regulations, with many claiming not to care about the tougher punishments.
“We are seriously concerned by the arrogance of so many drivers who appear unconcerned about being caught and the impact it will have on them”
Neil Worth, GEM Motoring Assist
Now figures from RAC Business show that a worrying one in five UK businesses have reported employees being in an accident while using a handheld phone at the wheel, with 15 per cent admitting their staff were â€œoftenâ€ involved in incidents and five per cent saying it happened on a â€œregular basisâ€.
Breaking the law
The RAC is now urging firms to take responsibility for their staffâ€™s actions. RAC Business said one of the contributing factors could be that four in 10 businesses said they expect commercial drivers to answer calls while on the road but almost a third (30 per cent) donâ€™t provide legally compliant hands-free kits.
Rod Dennis, from the RACâ€™s Be Phone Smart campaign said: â€œWe recognise that businesses need to stay in touch with drivers and commercial vehicle drivers need to stay in touch with customers.Â If employers expect their company drivers and staff to take calls on the road then they should be providing legally compliant hands-free kits so they can do that without breaking the law.
â€œHowever, just because itâ€™s legal to use a hands-free kit, it doesnâ€™t necessarily means itâ€™s always safe to do so, and it certainly shouldnâ€™t be used to have long conference calls or to proactively make lots of calls on a long journey.â€
Getting away with it
Since the penalties changed various polls have found that between 20 and 25 per cent of driver admit to still using a handheld phone while driving. Department for Transport figures show that 37 per cent of drivers believing the chance of getting caught is minimal, and 52 per cent arenâ€™t concerned about the impact of getting caught.
GEM Motoring Assist road safety officer Neil Worth commented: â€œWe are seriously concerned by the arrogance of so many drivers who appear unconcerned about being caught and the impact it will have on them.
â€œUsing any mobile device while driving is a massive distraction… youâ€™re seriously reducing your ability to focus on the journey, on the road ahead and on the hazards that may be developing.
â€œYou wouldnâ€™t do it with a police officer watchingâ€¦ so ask yourself is there anything that makes it any less risky or foolish just because the police arenâ€™t there? The answer is no. It is irresponsible and puts not only your own safety at risk, but the safety of those who happen to be sharing the road space with you.â€