A recent RAC Business Survey has seen 1 in 5 firms admit that their drivers have been involved in accidents or collisions while using a hand-held phone, despite their use being illegal and penalties recently being increased.

The survey of 1,000 businesses found that 19% admitted they had drivers that had been involved in an accident while using a hand-held phone. 15% of those surveyed admitted their drivers were ‘often involved’ in a collision while using a handheld phone and 5% admitted it happened ‘on a regular basis’.

A contributing factor is the number of businesses who admitted to requiring drivers to answer calls. Overall 1 in 4 expected their commercial drivers to take calls whilst at the wheel, while for larger businesses, half of them expected drivers to take calls.

Other contributing factors include 30% of firms not providing legally-compliant hands-free systems and 20% not having a policy that covered use of a mobile phone whilst driving. And this despite 92% of firms agreeing it was important to meet their duty of care obligations for business drivers.

While handsfree may be legal, it isn’t necessarily any safer because it is the call that provides the distraction, not the physical act of holding the phone. Companies need to have a policy in place that either clearly bans the use of mobile phones whilst driving or, if their use is allowed, the policy must set out clear conditions under which their use is permitted and set out the risks, together with when, where and how a driver should take a call in order to reduce those risks.