A round-up of this week’s news from the world of fleet.
Coalition calls on mobile industry to cut driver distraction caused by phones
A group of road charities and organisations has urged the mobile industry to act on driver distraction caused by phones.
The letter to Android, Microsoft and the GSMA (Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association) called for an ‘opt out’ driving mode as standard across mobile handsets.
The coalition, which included Brake and the RAC’s Be Phone Smart campaign, together with Brighton and Hove City Council, the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety, RED Driving School, Road Safety GB and RoadPeace, said technology to automatically prevent distracting alerts while driving is urgently needed.
They believe the feature would prevent the “needless deaths and serious injuries caused by drivers using handheld mobile phones behind the wheel”.
The group welcomed Apple’s release this week of its iOS 11 system update, which will include a ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ mode that detects when someone is driving and turns off calls, text messages and notifications.
The group says the illegal use of handheld mobile phones at the wheel is now at “epidemic proportions”, with an estimated 11 million UK motorists admitting to making or receiving a call while driving.
Five million say they have taken photos or videos while at the wheel of a moving vehicle.
Studies have also shown that just the sound of a mobile phone ringing causes distraction.
In 2015 – the latest year for which figures are available in Great Britain – Department for Transport statistics show that 22 people were killed and 99 were seriously injured in incidents where a driver was using their handheld phone behind the wheel.
RAC Be Phone Smart spokesman Pete Williams said: “We need organisations to work together and to come up with creative ways of helping drivers realise that no text or tweet while driving is worth the risk.
“Apple’s imminent iOS update is a major step forward and will mean that handsets used by millions of people will, for the first time, include in-built software that can reduce the distraction risk posed by handheld phones. Now we need the other major operating systems – Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile – to follow suit.”
Motorways a “mystery” for many
Britain’s motorways “remain a mystery” for many drivers as 19 million people live in areas without them, a motoring group has warned.
The RAC Foundation called for motorways to be designed for drivers who rarely use them. The call comes after Press Association analysis of Department for Transport data revealed that 89 local authority areas are not covered by the motorway network.
The motoring research charity’s director, Steve Gooding, said: “While one in five miles driven by car takes place on a motorway, for many motorists these roads remain a mystery.
“The challenge is to make motorways as welcoming and safe as possible, so those people who only use them once in a blue moon feel comfortable doing so.”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced plans last month to allow learner drivers on motorways to better prepare them for independent driving after passing the test.
AA president Edmund King said: “With nearly 30% of the population without a motorway in their area, making it compulsory would make it difficult for learners in the Highlands, the West Country and other rural areas to pass their test.
“If they move to another part of the country where they need to go on a motorway, the opportunity to get a familiarisation course is still available to them.”
Grey fleet drivers ‘ignore safety checks’
Grey fleet drivers do not always carry out basic safety checks on their vehicles, according to new research.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car commissioned a study of 2,000 adults who drive their own cars for business in the UK, Ireland, Germany, France and Spain.
Of those questioned, 43% of grey fleet drivers did not undertake any regular maintenance checks on their cars.
Questioned why they did not carry out basic tests, 35% said that they expected “the car to tell them if something was wrong,” While 36% said “that’s what services and MOTs were for”.
One in six (17%) simply expected modern cars to work.
Thirty eight percent admitted to never having checked the tyre tread, and 33% said they had not looked at engine oil levels; 40% had never checked if the brake lights worked and 30% confessed to never opening the car bonnet.