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ING Car Lease uncovers risky mobile phone business

5 September 2009

The recession is encouraging more company car drivers to take calls when behind the wheel, according to a survey by ING Car Lease.

The survey found that while 61% of company car drivers questioned felt under greater pressure to take or make calls while driving, 39% of respondents admitted to having previously texted or emailed while behind the wheel.

If that figure is an accurate representation of all company car drivers in the UK, then as many as 1,755,000 drivers could be texting or emailing behind the wheel, calculates ING.

Tests previously undertaken at TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) have shown that drivers who text while driving had their reaction times slowed by a third which, promoted the independent motoring research charity - the RAC Foundation - to make the claim that drivers who text are one of the biggest new risks on Britain’s roads.

As a result of using their keypads while driving, drivers lose concentration and their reaction times are slowed. Therefore they are more likely to drift out of lane, steer erratically and fail to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

Driver safety should be the greatest importance when analysing or managing a vehicle fleet but this new data shows that risks are being taken by drivers and there is a clear pressure to perform other business tasks while driving.

Diarmuid Fahy, head of risk at ING Car Lease, said: “These findings really are a cause for concern and are far worse than I thought they would be. It is clear that the recession has had an impact on driver safety even indirectly by adding greater pressure to drivers to perform a number of tasks at once.

“What is clear is that even if companies have a policy on mobile phones when driving they are not being adhered to. Also, 16% of respondents in our survey were unaware if their company had a policy on the use of mobile phones while driving. This figure is just unacceptable.

“Regardless of business performance, the one thing that should not be compromised is safety and it is just as important now as ever to make sure drivers and businesses have safety front of mind. Driving should not be looked upon as spare time; it needs full concentration to ensure maximum safety.”

TRL and Direct Line’s report into mobile phone use while driving can be seen here.