And yet, many organisations that operate fleets have not got any kind of formalised policy or strategy for dealing with it. This is a big problem – not only does it put drivers and other road users at risk, the business could be in jeopardy for not meeting its legal obligations.
Creating A Mobile Phone Policy
The first thing fleet managers need to do is lay out a very clear policy that all staff can understand. This policy needs to do these things:
-Establish boundaries. Can an employee use a mobile phone while parked? Or are mobile phones completely off limits in cars? Are employees allowed to speak with Bluetooth hands-free set-ups? It may be legal to do so – but it’s been shown that even hands-free devices pose a significant distraction threat, and if it is proven that a driver was distracted by their hands-free and caused a crash as a result, they can be prosecuted.
-Clearly state consequences. There must be an established disciplinary process so drivers are fully aware of the consequences.
-Establish exceptions. If there are to be exceptions to your policy, for example if a driver needs to call 999 and it isn’t possible to stop. What drivers can and can’t do must be clearly outlined.
-Provide support. Resources should be available to drivers who want to find out more about the company’s mobile policy and driver performance measures.
Enforcing Your Policy
Any corporate policy is only as good as its enforcement. But it is difficult to monitor mobile phone usage and hard to prove if employees have contravened the policy. However, there are some indicators that can let a fleet manager know if a driver has been distracted.
Telematics data today is so rich and detailed that you can find out huge amounts about a driver’s behaviour. Data about aggressive steering and braking can potentially indicate that a driver was distracted, which can be enough to initiate a conversation with an employee about their driving behaviour.
Improving Working Practices
It’s important that the conversation about mobile phone use behind the wheel goes both ways. It’s possible drivers use their phone to stay in contact with their manager or a customer, or for checking their work emails. They may feel that it is easier and less stressful to take a work call while on the road than wait until they have reached their destination or have had a chance to stop.
If this is the case, it’s important that fleet managers look at the company culture and ensure policies are put in place to ensure that no driver feels pressured to use their phone while driving.
This is another area where technology can help. Fleet management systems can dispatch jobs details to drivers directly to the driver terminal, and have the navigation automatically loaded so the driver doesn’t need to do anything at all. It’s possible for some systems to load up extensive information for the driver so it’s ready when they arrive, negating the need for them to ask for it on the way.
It’s this sort of technology that means drivers simply don’t need to use their phone behind the wheel – and that’s the best way of ensuring they don’t.
If you’d like to know more about how technology can help you manage the challenges facing you today, get in touch to find out about our range of state-of-the-art telematics products.