US – UK – Anyone who reads the Fastlane blog written by Ray LaHood will know that time and again the US Secretary of Transport turns back to the dangers of texting, phoning or undertaking other avoidable distractions whilst driving. Mr LaHood has used every possible form of persuasion open to him to get the message across including publishing the insignificant text messages before a serious crash and the voice of a mother introducing the last message phoned though from her late son before the accident which killed him to encouragement from beauty queens. Now the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has sent its own stall out for truck drivers in the UK following the publication of a new report.
The road safety campaign group and charity, Brake, has highlighted the inescapable fact that people who drive for a living are risking both their own life as well as those of other road users by texting, grooming and speeding while behind the wheel. The RHA understands that, no matter how many campaigns highlight the problem, there will always be exceptions to the rules of common sense and commercial vehicle drivers who ignore the potential consequences – and penalties.
Because of this the Association says it firmly believes that those caught and convicted of any offence that puts other road users in danger, whether by unsafe driving or, for example, tampering with tachograph devices, should face the harshest sentence possible under current legislation as only then will it act as a deterrent for others. At present, under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the maximum penalty for those convicted of causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment with a minimum 2 year mandatory disqualification. RHA Chief Executive Geoff Dunning comments:
“There can be no excuse for engaging in any of these practices while driving. We deplore this type of behaviour, whether from the driver of a car or a heavy goods vehicle. It puts the driver, other road users and pedestrians at risk. The consequences of such actions as texting, brushing hair, shaving, using a computer, mobile phone while driving can be absolutely catastrophic. The consequences for those who flout the regulations regarding safe driving practice must be made to face the consequences.
“For the HGV drivers, their cab is their place of work and the safety record for such drivers is excellent. Regrettably, there are a minority who ignore the rules and they only serve to bring the rest of the industry and its workforce into disrepute. We are encouraged that the RHA’s own Training facility has a steady stream of drivers taking part in what have now become mandatory, refresher driver training courses.“
Employers are being urged to get involved with Brake's Fleet Safety Forum to receive guidance, support and case studies to help them ensure the safety of their vehicles and drivers. See HERE for info. Commenting on the Brake report Matt Owen, spokesperson for insurance group Direct Line, said:
"Those who drive as part of their job seem to take greater risks whilst at the wheel, than the average driver. Whether it's over confidence as they are heavy road users, work pressures or to save time; the risks they are taking with their lives and the lives of others is substantial. What's more, texting, speeding and careless driving are illegal, and if caught the consequences could mean the risk they are taking with lives is also risking their livelihood."