Driving Out Distraction Pledge – Why is IAM Road Smart supporting this campaign?

Distracted driver

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM Road Smart, explains why multi-tasking at the wheel is a myth and urges employers to keep their staff safe on the road.

While education and enforcement on the topic of distraction are welcome, there is nothing like real employer commitment to actually change driver behaviour. That commitment has to start at the top with safe driving firmly embedded in your company culture. If it is, then signing up to a pledge such as Post’s Driving out Distraction campaign is a natural fit. 

At IAM Road Smart we practice what we preach and ensure all our drivers follow the staff guidelines on not making or taking calls and putting the phones away. It’s easy to exercise some self-control these days as most new smartphones know automatically if you are moving and suggest voicemail messages. The technology is helping but it must be backed up by an employer that understands you won’t be contactable when driving and really means it. It’s no good if your boss still phones you to sort out their most recent crisis.

As well as being a driver training body, we also conduct independent research and the findings are stark. No matter what type of call you take, illegal hand held or currently legal hands free, you will be distracted. Our report The Battle for Attention classifies distraction into four main categories:

  • Cognitive or mental distraction occurs when the driver’s mind is engaged on something other than driving
  • Visual distraction occurs when a driver takes their eyes off the road
  • Auditory distraction occurs when a driver is subjected to noise that diverts attention from safe driving
  • Manual distraction occurs when the driver takes their hands (either one or both) off the wheel to do something not connected with driving 
    (The most common examples are eating, drinking and interacting with smartphones)

These four sub-categories are not mutually exclusive and often drivers experience more than one type of distraction at the same time. How safe or unsafe the distraction becomes also depends on its intensity, the driving situation - for example driving on a bendy rural road versus stopped at traffic lights - and, finally, timing - does it coincide with an unexpected event?

The House of Commons Transport Committee endorsed these findings in its recent report that called for hands-free use to be controlled, particularly by responsible employers.

If you think you can multi-task your way out of these situations, then think again. Multi-tasking is a myth and you will always be distracted by a call or other interaction with a smartphone such as changing music tracks. There are many practical solutions to help drivers avoid the pitfalls of distraction. Will you keep your staff save by using them?

Driving out distraction logo

Join the campaign

Want to do something to help and support Post’s Driving out Distraction campaign? Sign up as a supporter and spread the word that you are doing your bit by committing not to use your phone while driving using #DrivingOutDistraction and #PayAttentionPullOver or get your firm to commit to our pledge to stop mobile phone use in company cars. 

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