Significant numbers of people who drive for work are risking devastating crashes by texting, speeding and grooming at the wheel, according to research by Brake and Direct Line released today.
The research shows that: nearly a third (31%) text while driving; one in six (17%) admit to grooming, such as putting on make-up or shaving, while at the wheel; more than three-quarters (76%) endanger pedestrians and cyclists by speeding at more than 35mph in built-up areas.
The survey revealed that people driving for business purposes are more likely than the general driving population to take all of these risks, prompting calls for employers to take action to ensure employees are safe and not putting others in danger.
Nearly a third (30%) of journeys on our roads are made by drivers who are at work at the time. It is estimated these drivers are 30-40% more likely to be in a crash than people driving on their own time. In Great Britain, 10 people are killed each week and 100 injured by people driving for work.
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: "It is appalling so many people who drive in a professional capacity are taking such horrendous and unnecessary risks, doing things we all know are unbelievably dangerous behind the wheel. People who drive as part of their job should be taking great care to stay within the law and not put people in danger, but according to these results, at-work drivers are more likely to take many deadly risks than other drivers. We are urging all employers to ensure they have comprehensive safe driving policies in place and that staff know the importance of not speeding or driving distracted. We are also calling on anyone who drives for work to make a commitment to stay within speed limits, stay off the phone, and focus on the critical task at hand."
Matt Owen, spokesperson for Direct Line, said: "Those who drive as part of their job seem to take greater risks while at the wheel, than the average driver. Whether it’s over-confidence as they are heavy road users, work pressures or to save time; the risks they are taking with their lives and the lives of others is substantial. What’s more, texting, speeding and careless driving are illegal, and if caught the consequences could mean the risk they are taking with lives is also risking their livelihood."
Further results from Brake and Direct Line’s survey show:
•Nearly a third (31%) text while driving, compared to 28% of non-work drivers;
•Nearly one in six (17%) admit grooming while driving, compared with 14% of non-work drivers;
•More than a third (37%) admit driving while talking on a hands-free phone, compared with 24% of non-work drivers;
•More than half (54%) admit speeding on 60mph limit roads, compared with 34% of non-work drivers;
•More than three quarters (76%) admit speeding more than 5mph above the limit on 30mph roads, compared with 62% of non-work drivers
Brake, alongside bereaved husband Michael Bird, whose wife was killed by a speeding truck driver, are calling on all organisations to ensure they have safe driving policies in place, which all staff understand and follow. They claim organisations who manage road risk effectively often see big reductions in insurance costs and benefits to staff morale.
Employers are being urged to get involved with Brake’s Fleet Safety Forum to receive guidance, support and case studies to help them ensure the safety of their vehicles and drivers. See www.fleetsafetyforum.org for info.