RMG Driver/Road Safety – ‘Distracted Driving Kills’ Campaign (RMG SHE Huddle/Briefing FY22 050):
“Turn it Off – Put it Out of Sight” – Drivers are four times more likely to have a road accident when using a mobile phone – as the tragic A1(M) horror crash proved
The Royal Mail Group Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) Team are launching a ‘Distracted Driving Kills’ driver and road safety communications campaign and staff briefing during week commencing 5 September with the issue of RMG SHE Huddle/Briefing FY22 050 (copy attached). A campaign slide/screen shot will also go out on the RMG plasma screens, RMTV and on the RMG Intranet (copy attached).
Overview Message and Top Tip – “Turn it Off – Put it Out of Sight”
‘BRAKE’ the Road Safety Charity’s ‘top tip’ to drivers is that the only way to avoid dangerous distraction from your phone is to switch it to silent and put it out of sight and reach when you’re driving.
The Highway Code & Road Traffic Act Changes – Toughening Up The Law and new ‘Zero Tolerance’ approach:
From 25 March 2022, motorists are breaking the law if they use a handheld phone behind the wheel for any use. The 2022 law change now prohibits any driver from using their handheld device for anything, including taking photos or videos, scrolling through playlists, playing games, watching videos or websites —EVEN if the vehicle isn’t moving.
In announcing the change, the Minister said that the government has now closed a loophole previously exploited by dangerous drivers to escape conviction. Anyone caught using their mobile phone/handheld device while driving under the updated law now faces a fine of up to £1,000 as well as 6 points on their licence or a full driving ban.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) report that just over 90,000 drivers were caught and convicted of being distracted at the wheel and not being in full control of their vehicle last year, the majority for using a mobile phone, with 1,000 of those being caught more than once during that period. From March this year those caught are given a CU80 endorsement on their driving licence, as well as six penalty points and a fine of up to £1,000.
Hands-Free Mobile Phone Use:
Research is clear that hands-free use of a mobile device is just as dangerous as hand-held use and leaves you four times more likely to be involved in a serious crash. It is not the visual distraction of the phone which causes this, but the cognitive impairment/loss of concentration caused by the conversation. If a driver is involved in an RTC collision then the driver’s phone will be taken by police and any use, including hands-free will be analysed and used as evidence that the driver was not fully focussed on their driving, to support a prosecution.
Prosecutions and the Serious Consequences of Distracted Driving Accidents and Disasters – ‘Don’t Let It Happen To You!’:
Here in summary are four example cases which demonstrate the very worst of what distracted driving can lead to by way of death, disaster and consequences with drivers receiving long prison sentences.
In 2021 Lorry driver Ion Onut was jailed for 8 years and 10 months and banned from driving for 14 years and 5 months after three people were killed and several others seriously injured when his loaded, articulated HGV ploughed into a queue of stationary traffic at 58MPH on the A1(M) motorway on 15 July 2021. Truck driver Ion Onut had been browsing websites on his phone and failed to stop. His life has been ruined, along with the lives of the deceased, the seriously injured and their families. Every other vehicle on the motorway managed to stop that day when they saw traffic ahead but Mr Onut didn’t because he was distracted by his mobile phone.
In 2018 Lorry driver David Wagstaff was jailed for 3 years and 4 months and banned for driving for 5 years after he drove his FedEx lorry into a stationary minibus on the M1 motorway, killing 8 people and injuring 4 others. The Truck driver Wagstaff had been so distracted by using his mobile phone he took no action whatsoever to avoid a collision because he wasn’t concentrating on what was in front of him – The Judge said “The mini-bus was there to be seen and you didn’t see it because you mind was elsewhere”.
In 2017 Lorry driver Roy Woods was jailed for 5 years and banned from driving for 7 and a half years after he ran into two stationary motorcycles. One motorcyclist was killed and one was injured in the fatal crash. The truck driver Woods was using a mobile phone at the time of the collision and had become so distracted by the conversation he was having that as the motorbikes ahead of him stopped at the turning, indicating to turn right, he failed to react in time, colliding with both bikes. He was using a set of earphones and his handset was attached to the dashboard in front of him. Woods had spent one hour and 46 minutes of the five hours he had driven that day, having phone conversations.
In 2016 Coach driver Martin Chun was jailed for 5 years and banned from driving for 4 years after he lost control and crashed his coach, killing two elderly passengers. At the time of the crash Chun was having a phone conversation with his son using a hands-free mobile, and at the trial, the jury was told he was in a “telephone-induced stupor” and was distracted and not concentrating on his driving. The evidence showed that Chun had made and taken a number of phone calls during the coach trip which were not dealt with briefly, but Chun chose to reconnect the calls on two or three occasions.
A1(M) Fatal Crash Disaster – Short Video “Look What You’ve Done – Three Lives Lost and One Changed Forever” (distressing content)
A short, shocking video of the A1(M) crash when a distracted articulated HGV driver on a mobile phone crashed into stationary traffic at 58 MPH killing three and seriously injuring several others can be watched on these links:
What The Driving and Road Safety Expert Organisations Say (RoSPA, AA, BRAKE, RHA and RAC):
‘RoSPA’ say that a substantial body of 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.
‘The AA’ state that according to official accident data there are 4,500 injury accidents a year where driver distraction is recorded as a contributory factor of which 800 are serious and 125 are fatal.
‘BRAKE’ the road safety campaign charity say “A moment’s distraction can be fatal. Employers must implement policies and take steps to educate drivers on the risks of driving whilst distracted. Distraction is a major cause of collisions, with too many unnecessary injuries and lives lost every year as a result. Commercial fleet operators need to proactively identify and coach distracted driving out of their fleets.”
‘The Road Haulage Association (RHA)’ said “It’s an inescapable fact that people who drive for a living are risking both their own life as well as those of other road users by using a mobile phone, making calls, texting etc. while behind the wheel. There can be no excuse for engaging in any of these practices while driving. The RHA deplore this type of behaviour, whether from the driver of a car or a heavy goods vehicle. It puts the driver, other road users and pedestrians at risk. The consequences of such actions as texting, using a mobile phone or indulging in other distracting activities while driving can be absolutely catastrophic. Those who flout the regulations regarding safe driving practice must be made to face the consequences.”
‘The RAC’ road safety spokesperson said “Far too many drivers are still breaking the law and putting others on the road needlessly at risk. Using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel is illegal and dangerous and, like drink-driving, ruins lives. Worryingly, the RAC’s research shows that a quarter of drivers are still making or receiving calls with a handheld phone while driving and incredibly a small but sizeable proportion even admit to filming videos or playing games at the wheel. Driving is one of the most dangerous things we do on a daily basis, and requires full concentration to do so safely.”
Royal Mail Policy
Royal Mail Group’s ‘Mandatory’ policy is clear, that drivers must never use a mobile phone, PDA, other mobile device or anything that will or has the potential to cause a distraction whilst driving. This includes the use of devices via Bluetooth or other ‘hands-free’ connectivity, whether for the purposes of making or receiving calls, sending or receiving messages via text, email or any other format including accessing the internet, social media or any similar application. This policy applies to drivers of all vehicles types across all business functions including Parcelforce, RMSS, RM Fleet, RMP&FS, RME etc., and includes managers and non-ops driving company or private cars for business purposes.
The Aims and Benefits of the Campaign are:
To increase awareness amongst drivers and managers, improve driving standards, road safety and highway code compliance. The SHE Huddle/Briefing FY22 050 gives advice to help avoid RTC incidents, avoid driver prosecutions and keep Royal Mail and Pacelforce drivers and other road users safe.
Managers and PiC Actions:
- Managers and PiCs to brief all drivers – delivering the SHE Huddle/Briefing FY22 050, raising awareness of the extreme dangers of driver distractions.
- Ensure that you are always fully focused on your driving.
- Know where you are going before you leave and if you are using a sat/nav, programme it before you drive.
- Turn your phone to silent and put it out of sight so you are not tempted to look.
- Do not read addresses whilst driving – pull over if you need to.
- Do not wear earphones/headphones whilst driving and keep the radio at a sensible volume.
CWU ASRs/WSRs Actions:
This campaign is supported by the CWU HQ Health, Safety & Environment Department. CWU ASR/WSR full support and participation is much appreciated by Royal Mail, Parcelforce Worldwide, RMSS, RMP&FS and CWU HQ. ASRs/WSRs should ensure that the briefing is delivered to drivers and ensure drivers are aware of the extreme dangers and risks of driver distraction and the consequences.
- SHE Huddle FY22 050 – RMG Driver/Road Safety – ‘Distracted Driving Kills’ Campaign
- RMTV Campaign Screenshot
- RoSPA Mobile Phones & Driving Factsheet
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer