Fewer than half of van drivers use handsfree or Bluetooth technology while driving and are continuing to risk a £200 fine and six penalty points for making calls on the go, according to a study.
In December 2019, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles surveyed 1,000 UK van drivers and found that despite the average worker making seven calls a day while driving and spending an average of 37 minutes on the phone for work each day, just 41% use handsfree and Bluetooth technology frequently.
In addition, 17% of drivers admitting to sending and receiving texts, checking e-mails or posting on social media while driving, according to the RAC Report on Motoring 2019. Last year, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles revealed 23% of drivers don’t even have a handsfree kit in their van.
To help, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles fits a Bluetooth hands-free kit as standard across its model range, and the brand’s vehicles also offer App Connect (wireless on the recently launched Transporter 6.1) which allow access to certain apps on the move and include the facility to dictate and listen to text or WhatsApp messages without taking their eyes off the road.
The Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles research revealed van drivers in London, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the Northeast are most likely to dial using the technology while Scottish van drivers are twice as likely to give handsfree a miss compared to any other region.
The news comes three years after tougher laws were introduced to clamp down on mobile phone use behind the wheel. The legislation includes not only making calls, but also texting, taking selfies or posting on social media. Since March 2017, drivers have faced a fine of £200 and six penalty points, meaning being caught twice is enough to get a licence revoked.
Claire English, head of fleet at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “Mobile phone use behind the wheel is a topic that we’ve been monitoring for the past couple of years and the recent statistics show it is still a huge safety problem on UK roads. Despite carrying a hefty punishment, it lacks the taboo of other offences such as drink-driving and this needs to change.
“As part of our Working With You promise, we’re committed to improving safety on UK roads for both our customers and other road users, always ensuring we provide the right equipment for the job, for example offering Autonomous Emergency Braking and a handsfree kit as standard across the range.”