Fleets are being urged to sign up to a smartphone app that stops company car, van and truck drivers using their mobile phone while on the move.
Two lorry drivers were jailed last month for causing a crash that resulted in the deaths of eight people on the M1.
During the trial, it emerged that one of the drivers, David Wagstaff, had been on a hands-free call at the time of the impact.
Judge Francis Sheridan, when sentencing Wagstaff, acknowledged he had not broken the law in using his Bluetooth headset at the wheel, but said: “It would be wrong of me not to take the opportunity to urge the public to download the app that deactivates your phone when you are on the move.”
DriveCommander is a software solution for smartphones and tablets that automatically detects driving status to ensure compliance with corporate safe driving policies.
The app detects the driving state of the vehicle and automatically puts the mobile phone or tablet in ‘safe mode’ while driving. A curtain screen blocks access to the keyboard and screen, and all notifications and alerts are suppressed – including incoming calls, texts and emails.
Nick Evans, director of DriveCommander, told Commercial Fleet: “Driving is the most dangerous work activity that most people do.
“More than 100 people are killed or seriously injured every week in crashes involving someone who was driving or riding for work. Driver distraction is the key cause and the use of mobile phones while driving is a growing problem.”
The number of drivers who admit to using a handheld phone while driving has increased from 8% in 2014 to 31% in 2017, while accident data shows there were more than 570 crashes in 2016 where a mobile phone was a contributory factor, resulting in 19 deaths.
Motorists caught using a phone behind the wheel can receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine.
Evans said: “Dangerous drivers who cause death while using their mobile phones could face life in prison, while there’s the possibility company directors could face similar charges.
“DriveCommander keeps your drivers and other road users safe, while protecting your business. It also proves a good health and safety policy is implemented in the business and has the potential to reduce premiums as well as costs associated with addressing distracted driving incidents.”
DriveCommander can be offered as a software-only or hardware-assisted solution.
For the hardware assisted solution, the software works with hardware in the vehicle to determine the driving state and prevent prohibited use while driving. Device use is only prevented when driving in vehicles with the designated hardware.
The software-only solution provides a vehicle-agnostic solution – preventing prohibited use of devices in any vehicle, without the need for hardware.
Either option comes with access to the DriveCommander reporting portal, which provides detailed reporting and analytics to simplify the reporting and auditing of conformance with company safe driving policies.
The portal is available to company administrators, reporting on any device use while driving including tampers and overrides. Summaries can be viewed at company, team or individual levels. Options are also available for real-time alerts or automated reporting.
Meanwhile, the administrative portal gives employers the ability to configure features, options and overrides for groups or individuals.
Fleets pay up to £4.99 per month, per device, for app use and access to the portal and all analytical data. For more information, visit www.drivecommander.com.