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A 'Hands-Free' ban: a company-wide driving for work policy

29 April 2010

At-work driving safety initiatives introduced by diversified technology company 3M - including a ban on all mobile phone use while on the move - are being followed by other employers.

3M is also urging companies that have HGVs and trailers on UK roads to ensure their drivers take extra care after dark. It is estimated that 40% of road accidents occur during the twilight hours - night and dawn - even though less than one third of all traffic is on the road at that time.

The Bracknell-headquartered company is one of 42 ‘business champions’ identified by the Government-backed ‘Driving for Better Business’ campaign, which is managed by RoadSafe, as being in the vanguard of promoting occupational road safety.

Today the company hosts a ‘business champions’ event that will attract many of the campaign members as they share best practice and network.

The company’s initiatives have ranged from an external child road safety campaign with schools to its internal policy introduced in July 2008 to ban all employees from using even hands-free mobile phones while driving.

It was among the first major companies in the UK to bring in such a ban and it did so in the face of somewhat underwhelming support from its employees. Many of them, especially its sales staff, had become used to making calls to customers on the move.

Research shows that using a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone while driving is a significant distraction and substantially increases the risk of the driver crashing. Indeed, drivers who use a mobile phone, whether hand-held or hands-free, are four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing themselves and/or other people. Drivers on hands-free mobile phones took 20% longer to hit the brakes, following distances increased by 30% as drivers failed to keep pace with traffic and memory performance declined by 11%, according to a recent study by the University of Utah.

The Department for Transport previously ruled out a review of the law in March 2009 when TRL research found that using a hands-free phone while driving was more likely to lengthen reaction times than having 80mg of alcohol in the bloodstream – the current UK limit – and no political party has shown the appetite to introduce a ban.

A Fleet News poll following the 2009 TRL research revealed a minority (45%) of fleets had banned their drivers from using hands-free phones.

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