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Businesses must do more to tackle distracted driving, says IAM RoadSmart

Businesses must urgently tackle the issue of distracted drivers at the wheel and overhaul their safety at work policies to help stem the tide of avoidable crashes on our roads.

Driver using mobile phone

IAM RoadSmart says fleets must do more to tackle distracted driving

So says IAM RoadSmart, which has just published a white paper called Driving While Distracted: Challenges and Solutions that examines the reasons why so many motorists’ minds wander while driving, and what can be done to reverse the trend.

The white paper highlights DfT figures showing in 2017 there were 4,639 casualties caused by in-vehicle distractions, and says that driver distraction can take four forms: mental, visual, manual and through sound – and in today’s world, some of these factors can combine to make the problem significantly worse. These were also highlighted in IAM RoadSmart’s 2017 report ‘The Battle for Attention’.

The growing trend of ‘nomophobia’ – the fear of being out of mobile phone contact is particularly prevalent among business drivers but employers can avoid it through consistent application of a mobile phone policy among their drivers.

The advent of new DAS (Driver Assistance Systems) which can tempt us to drive as a passenger one minute and retake control the next are all adding to the need to ensure fleet managers take distraction seriously. Dr Graham Hole from Sussex University believes that the worst of all worlds is semi-autonomous driving, saying that ‘humans are rubbish at being vigilant.’

In terms of an answer to the problem of distracted motorists, the report states that the ideal solution – the fully autonomous car – is still some way off.

Dr Hole adds that cars need to keep drivers engaged and avoid them switching off during the journey – that human involvement was crucial.

The report sets out that businesses need to ask some long hard questions, plus have a robust company driver training policy that isn’t ignored.

The report concludes that “it is imperative that fleet managers – and their leaders – take a fresh look at professional driver training, to ensure that their employees reach the very highest standards”.

Tony Greenidge, IAM RoadSmart business development director, said: “Our whitepaper shows that with the increasing sophistication of in-car technology there is an unintended consequence that requires drivers – typically in real time – to decide how to best process and utilise the information provided.

“Employers also have a key role to play by ensuring that their travel and mobility policies allow drivers to take full advantage of technology but in a way that is both safe and legal.”

The full report can be found here.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.