The National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) has developed the Guide to Developing an Effective Mobile Phone Policy to assist organisations in developing and implementing their own policies for safer use of mobiles in vehicles.
Having a well-planned policy in place can give structure and direction for organisations to support their employees to be safer on the roads. The NRSPP Guide to Developing an Effective Mobile Phone Policy aims to help an organisation do just that and ensure they have Mobile Phone Use Policy that meets their specific requirements.
Now consider how the mobile phone has revolutionised the way we communicate. It has not only permeated every facet of our lives – work, personal and social – but has brought them together into the one space. And because our mobiles are always within arm’s reach, they have the potential to impact everything we do, including our ability to drive a car safely.
Using a mobile phone while driving is a growing and concerning behaviour for organisations. There is a large body of road safety research that shows mobile phones can be a distraction and have the capacity to divert a driver’s attention away from the road. And the evidence is clear: taking your eyes off the road poses the most dangerous and greatest risk when driving a vehicle.
Organisations have a responsibility to provide their employees with a safe working environment, which also extends to when they are driving vehicles. Therefore it is critical that processes are put in place to ensure that the demands of an organisation’s operations are not a catalyst for employees to use mobile phones illegally or in an unsafe manner.
Guide to Developing an Effective Mobile Phone Policy will help organisations answer the following questions:
- Why implement a Mobile Phone Use Policy?
- What evidence is there on mobile phone use while driving?
- What’s the risk to employees?
- What is the risk to an organisation?
- Why invest the time in developing a Mobile Phone Use Policy?
- How does an organisation successfully develop a Mobile Phone Use Policy?
There are two versions one in booklet format and the second in traditional A4 Report. In addition to the policy guide there is a range of supporting material which has been developed to assist.
WHAT’S THE EVIDENCE AND WHAT’S THE RISK TO MY EMPLOYEES?
There is a large body of road safety research showing that mobile phones are one of many distractions that drivers face on a daily basis. Table 1 shows statistically significant increases in crash and safety-critical event risk (expressed as “odds ratios”; e.g. 6.1) associated with the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving – when texting, locating and reaching for the phone, dialling, and conversing on the phone. Odds ratios greater than 1.0 indicate increased crash risk. For example, an odds ratio of 2.0 indicates a 2x increase in risk of a crash or safety-critical event (e.g. near-crash) associated with driver engagement in that activity.
The odds ratios are derived from naturalistic driving studies (NDSs), in which video cameras and other sensors are used to automatically record, for months or years, driver interactions with mobile phones and other sources of distraction.
For the studies in Table 1, the activities that lead to the greatest increase in risk are those which take the driver’s eyes off the road (visual distraction). These findings are consistent with an earlier NDS suggesting that glances away from the road totalling more than 2 seconds, for any purpose, double near-crash/crash risk relative to normal, baseline driving (Klauer et al. 2006). Conversing on a hand-held phone (cognitive distraction) appears, from these studies and other studies, to be relatively less risky.
Collectively, these findings are supported by a recent meta-analysis (Simmons, Hicks, & Caird, 2016) suggesting that mobile phone-related tasks that require drivers to take their eyes off the road, such as dialling, locating a phone and texting, increase the risk of a safety-critical event to a greater extent than tasks that do not require eyes off the road, such as conversing.