- Nearly half of UK van drivers unaware of new laws introduced in March 2022
- Almost 90% of van drivers physically check their phones while driving, facing £200 fine and six penalty points if convicted
- Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is urging drivers to prioritise safety behind the wheel, by putting down handheld devices and taking extra precautions in the icy conditions
- Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles offers Bluetooth® kit as standard and range of smart tech features to enable safe, hands-free driving
Milton Keynes, UK, 16 December 2022 – Almost 90% of van drivers are risking a £200 fine and six penalty points on their licence for using phones behind the wheel, according to a study by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles*. The manufacturer is urging UK drivers to remember to prioritise safety behind the wheel by going hands-free – even more essential when driving in the current icy conditions.
A survey of 1,000 UK van drivers found 9 out of 10 admit to physically checking their smartphones while driving, despite the introduction of legislation in March 2022, banning drivers from using handheld devices under virtually any circumstance.
Latest legislation means motorists are now breaking the law if they use a handheld device for any purposes while driving. There is an exemption that allows for contactless payments to be made while the vehicle is stationary, such as at a drive-through, and the use of hands-free devices remains legal while driving, provided that the device is safely secured and positioned.
Half of van drivers said they were not aware of the specific changes to phone usage laws, which prohibit texting, taking photos, scrolling social media and playlists, or playing games. Worryingly, the other half admitted to knowing but figures show many are continuing to check devices anyway.
With the current icy conditions playing an additional factor in road safety, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is urging drivers to take extra precautions while driving, always using secure and safely positioned handheld devices, and coming prepared for the poor conditions. When a journey is essential, the following tips can help drivers to stay safe on the road**:
- Only set off once there is full visibility inside the vehicle (including windscreen, windows, mirrors and lights)
- Reduce speed and leave as much room as possible to the vehicle in front, to account for reduced tyre grip and longer stopping distances
- When going downhill, drive in a lower gear and avoid unnecessary braking
- Accelerate, brake, steer, and change gear as slowly and smoothly as possible to reduce the risk of skidding
- If you encounter a skid, turn the wheel in the direction you are sliding in and do not remove your hands from the steering wheel or slam on the brakes
- Use dipped headlights when driving in heavy snow
In order to promote road safety and optimise customer convenience further, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles fits a Bluetooth® hands-free kit as standard across its entire model range, and offers a selection of digital services, including We Connect and App-Connect, that use voice control to allow drivers to make calls, use apps, and calculate routes without taking their eyes off the road.
Many van drivers have already transitioned to technology to help them do work on the move, with the study finding 96% have access to in-built connectivity, such as Bluetooth, with 75% of van drivers making up to 10 hands-free calls a day.
Rob Holdcroft, Head of Network Sales at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “In these dangerous, icy weather conditions, it’s even more important to make sure drivers are fully focused on the road ahead. For all those on the road to remain safe – drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike – extra concentration and care is needed. Looking at your phone is a distraction that must be avoided, and with in-built hands-free technologies, this is easy to avoid while driving.
“As part of our Working With You promise, we offer a range of safety technology and features, such as voice control and Adaptive Cruise Control, so van drivers can keep themselves and other road users safe.”
For more details on Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ award-winning range of products and services, or to find your nearest Van Centre, please visit www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk