Road safety rules must be strictly adhered to whatever the circumstances, personal injury solicitors have warned, after research showed many employers appear to be requiring staff to answer mobile phone calls when behind the wheel, potentially leading to road traffic accident claims or even accident at work compensation claims.
The AA/Populus Survey of 6,973 people who drive to work and own a mobile phone found that almost 19% of respondents think their employer does not actively encourage legal, safe use of these handsets when the worker is commuting to work by car or is driving around as part of their job.
Furthermore, 7% said they feel pressured to answer phone calls on their hand-held work phone when they are behind the wheel, with 15% saying they feel like they have to answer a hands-free set when they are commuting or driving for work. In fact, 4% of people claimed that their colleagues or employer had actually criticised them for not answering a phone call or responding to emails or texts while driving.
No win no fee solicitors urge employers to meet their duty of care towards their workforce. The link between mobile phone use and road traffic accident claims is well-documented, and forcing staff to answer the phone when driving is clearly acting negligently. Employers must take all reasonably practicable steps to protect the health and safety of their workforce, and pressuring people to drive and use mobile phones at the same time is a clear breach of this responsibility. Negligent employers could face serious legal repercussions if a member of staff is in a road traffic accident claim when talking on the phone for work-related purposes. If personal injury solicitors built a case, they could be able to demonstrate that the employer is responsible for all injuries in the motor vehicle accident, and the employee could make an accident at work compensation claim.
The public understands the dangers of mobile phone use
In a wider survey, AA/Populus polled 22, 194 drivers to find out their opinions on mobile phone use. Overall, 88% of people said they disagree with the statement that it is fundamentally safe to take phone calls when behind the wheel, with 87% of men and 90% of women disagreeing.
While mobile phones have transformed the way businesses operate in the modern age, and while phones can help people stay in touch with old friends, save money and deal with problems, these benefits are not worth the risk of potentially fatal motor vehicle accidents.
Many people may think that a range of other work tasks pose the greatest danger to them, but driving is frequently one of the most dangerous activities people take part in as part of their employment. A slight error could easily lead to death or serious injury, with 'drivers at work' seen in a huge proportion of road traffic accident claims. Employers who force members of staff to answer phones - either overtly or covertly - are behaving in a completely unacceptable manner.