Mobile phones and hazard perception: lessons for businesses
Drivers holding a hands-free mobile telephone conversation faced the same risks as those posed by already-banned hand-held phones, but employers were more likely to adopt a pragmatic attitude to the distraction, according to Professor David Crundall, of Nottingham Trent University speaking at a business champions' event on 3rd May.
The use of a hand-held telephone has been banned since 2003 and numerous studies, some undertaken by Professor Crundall, have highlighted that the distraction danger as a result of a hands-free mobile phone conversation when driving was equally as dangerous.
“There is a public perception that having a conversation on a hands-free telephone is safe, but nothing could be further from the truth,” he told delegates.
While a number of event delegates revealed their employers banned the use of all mobile telephones when driving, Professor Crundall indicated that despite the studies he believed many organisations would take a more pragmatic approach.
“One of the reasons why there is no ban on hands-free phones is because it is difficult to police and mobile communications has a role to play within the business community and the wider economy”, he said.
Although acknowledging that “hands-free communication is very important for business”, Professor Crundall said they were “dangerous to use when driving” and calls should be limited as much as possible.
He highlighted that studies showed most hands-free telephone calls were instigated by drivers rather than being incoming and that drivers often under estimated how difficult and distracting such conversations could be while on the road.
Professor Crundall urged employers to tell drivers to “go silent” during a telephone call if driving demands were high and to introduce “pause phrases” into their conversations
“Not using a hands-free telephone can have a big knock on effect on business, but drivers should feel OK to go silent. There should be no social stigma to dropping out of a mobile telephone conversation for a few seconds,” he said.
Professor Crundall also suggested that drivers should compensate for the distraction of holding a hands-free mobile phone conversation by reducing their speed and leaving more space between them and the vehicle ahead.
A mobile phone conversation is acknowledged to be a major driving distraction and will impact on a driver’s ability to predict hazards on the road, said Professor Crundall.
“Drivers need to spend as much time trying to predict where the next hazard is coming from as possible,” he said.
He explained how experienced drivers were more aware than novice drivers as to where to look for hazards when driving notably in scanning to the left and right rather than only looking straight ahead.
As a result experienced drivers were likely to spot a hazard, process the information and take remedial action quicker than a novice driver.
However, in the workplace so-called ‘experienced drivers’ could become novice drivers through changing circumstances that might include: driving a different vehicle to the norm for the first time or driving in a foreign country.
“Hazard perception is specific to a particular type of vehicle and a change in vehicle can be used to identify driving needs,” said Professor Crundall, who added, “Even experienced drivers can benefit from hazard perception training. Hazard perception training can improve road safety.”
Related news, events and information
New warning over hands-free mobile phone use
18 March 2009 – Driver reaction times, such as the time taken to apply the brakes or steer away from danger, are significantly...
Nottinghamshire Driving for Better Business Seminar
1 April 2015 – The Nottinghamshire Driving for Better Business Seminar is a major local event aimed at businesses of all sizes...
Nottinghamshire Driving for Better Business seminar a great success
19 June 2015 – The aim of the seminar was to encourage local companies and organisations to adopt and renew their policies on...
New Schools Driver Education Programme in W Sussex
7 July 2011 – A new scheme will give away state-of-the-art driver training software to every young driver across West...
Growing concern over hand held mobile phones
4 November 2016 – There is growing concern about the use of hand held mobile devices by drivers. In Britain, government is...
First speakers confirmed for Young Driver Focus
29 October 2018 – Story from Road Safety GB. The first two speakers have been confirmed for the 2019 edition of Young Driver...
BSM rolls out risk awareness programme nationwide
1 July 2006 – A new research project is set to show that poor awareness and visual skills explain why inexperienced drivers...
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...
Research shows 'hands free' as dangerous as 'hands-held'
24 January 2019 – Think talking on your hands-free while driving is safe? Think again (policy brief): University of Sussex (DOP:...