Using a mobile behind the wheel is dangerous! In light of the tragic headlines this week, how can you stop employees using a mobile when they are driving as part of their work duties, and never use their mobile phones whilst they are on the move?
This week, our member Health & Safety expert Michelle Hay, explains the importance of preventing your employees using their mobiles when they are driving anywhere, but especially when driving is part of their job:
‘Lorry driver jailed over four-death crash’
“In today’s society, using a mobile is like breathing. We just do it! And quite often, we don’t realise that we are checking our phones. That’s the worrying part. It’s similar to getting to your destination and not remembering how you got there. Even the most attentive drivers experience this with familiarity of a route.
Tomasz Kroker, the person responsible for the deaths of four people from one family, had, on that same day, signed an agreement with his employer promising that ‘I will never use a hand-held mobile phone or hands-free kit whilst driving’.
Even if you’ve done your risk assessment and highlighted the risks associated with people using their mobile phones whilst driving, what else can you do? Other than state the terrible potential consequences of using a mobile phone whilst driving, is there anything else that can be done to really drive home the message.
The fact is, not much. As employers, we are reliant on our employees doing the right thing. Ideally all of the time. The reality is very different. Short of people being filmed and monitored throughout their working hours, we have to trust that people will do what they should do, in a way that we expect them to. Let’s also not forget that anyone who holds a UK driving licence, is expected to abide by the rules of the road too. Employee or not. Cleaner to CEO, middle man to MD. So, if you fail to drive carefully, are you a risk to the business and its reputation?
My own observations are that there is no discrimination in age, sex, race or other type of people who use their mobiles whilst driving. It’s a constant source of annoyance to me. It’s also a great distraction to me as a driver.
I was once behind my HR manager at traffic lights near work. I could tell that she was on her phone. The lights went green and she didn’t move. I didn’t use my car horn, despite temptation, I just waited patiently. The lights went red again and I waited. Eventually, at the next turn of green, she moved off. It was 7.15 in the morning! When I got to work behind her, I asked her who was she texting at that time in the morning, (most of my friends would either be getting the children ready for school, on their way to work or still in bed). She said that she wasn’t texting, she was on Facebook!
The one thing that usually hits home with trainees, is when I tell them this… ‘For the average person in this predominantly passive and non-aggressive country; the only way that we would ever kill someone is with our car or through giving someone an allergen by mistake’. That has the desired effect and starts a discussion that hopefully goes home to their family and friends too.
How people drive says much about their care of their surroundings and their level of risk taking generally. Those who speed towards the next red light are high risk takers and more likely to be using their mobile phone at the same time and involved in an accident. Those that drive steady and thoughtfully, are less likely to be involved in an accident, and, less likely to use their mobile phone for more than just receiving calls. Hopefully, only via Bluetooth.
What’s the answer?
Checking work mobiles? Weekly reminders? Make it a sackable offence? For a start I would show employees the speech made outside the court yesterday by the mother of one of the victim’s mother, on the BBC.
People respond best when they can imagine things happening to their family or close friends.
Thanks to Michelle Hay for her Expert Opinion contribution this week