The dangers of texting at the wheel: has your company got a policy in place?

  • By Anton Hilton
  • 31 Oct, 2016

New government regulations expected to come into force next year means drivers caught texting at the wheel will face much tougher consequences. 

With mobile phones being the hub of our daily lives, many – not just the young – can’t get through the day without their device. We will all know someone who just can’t ignore the sound of a text, needing to look immediately and to send a reply. It doesn’t matter what they are doing, even if it’s driving.

78% of crashes involve the person behind the steering wheel being preoccupied with other activities (Allianz Centre for Technology, AZT). Not only is texting a common cause of this preoccupation, but also has a significant impact on reaction times.

According to the RAC, reaction times are 35% slower if texting whilst driving. This is more impactful than driving under the influence of cannabis (21%) and nearly three times more than driving at the legal drink limit (12%). Combined with a dangerous reduction in speed and lane control due to the eyes, hands and mind being heavily involved and distracted from the road, the likelihood of crashing when on the phone is increased by a factor of four.

Textalyzer

In New York, legislation has been proposed that would mean drivers involved in road accidents would need to provide their phone for roadside testing from a ‘Textalyzer’. This test would conclude if the driver’s phone was in use before the accident. The Textalyzer would maintain the drivers right to privacy, analysing only the phone’s metadata, so that texts, photos and app data remained secure. Additional analysis could then conclude whether the phone was in use via hands-free or dashboard technology. Police would have the power to revoke a driver’s licence if they refused to hand over their phone for testing.

This proposed bill has the potential to significantly improve dangerous driving habits and could help to substantially reduce fraudulent insurance claims. Drivers found to be over the drink-drive limit when breathalysed are unable to claim on their insurance for damage to their vehicle or themselves – information from the Textalyzer could be used to the same effect. The evidence could enable this careless driving to be correctly penalised and prevent the driver from making an insurance claim. It would also mean their future premiums could be adjusted accordingly.

It is unlikely that the current statistics are truly representative of the full extent of the problem. It will be interesting to see the impact of the Textalyzer in New York and whether other countries will follow in their footsteps.

The Law

Texting at the wheel is an offence the government is cracking down on. Under new rules that are due to come into force next year, drivers will receive six points on their license and face a £200 fine, if caught. This means that young or newly qualified drivers will be made to retake their test if they’re caught within two years of gaining their full license.

These new rules apply to England, Scotland and Wales and could also result in drivers who offend twice going to court, facing possible fines of up to £1000 and a six-month driving ban.

If prosecuted for careless driving or dangerous driving even higher penalties apply (death by dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison).

The only times that it is permissible to use a phone whilst driving are:

-calling 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop; or

-the vehicle is safely parked.

-Hands free phones can be used but if the police believe it is causing driver distraction and loss of control, a driver can still be stopped and penalised.

Reducing the risk

Under Health and Safety legislation, employers have a legal obligation to ensure comprehensive driving training, analysis and control is in place. If staff are required to use a company or personal mobile phone whilst driving, the employer could be prosecuted if this use is found to have contributed to an accident.

Ensuring you have a clear company policy on the use of mobile phones and driving can help to reduce the risk.

A comprehensive driving policy should detail:

-Expectations around safe driving

-Health and safety committee consultation and regular review

There are also easy steps that can be taken to avoid driver distraction, ranging from simply putting the phone in the boot or glove box, to setting up auto-respond text messages through mobile applications that block incoming calls and texts – removing the temptation to use a phone on the road in the first place is a simple but effective measure.

For a no obligation business insurance quotation please contact Forum Insurance on 020 8909 2899
By Anton Hilton 27 Nov, 2017

Crowded places are – and will remain – attractive targets for international and “home-grown” terrorists and so an important element of any counter-terrorist strategy is to create safer places and buildings that are less vulnerable to a terrorist attack. This is especially so for leisure, hospitality, retail industries.

Cost of terrorism

Companies still significantly underestimate their potential exposure to the related risks and losses, especially to the increasing indirect risks from terrorism elsewhere. For example, the Paris attacks in November 2015 paralysed Brussels’ tourism and retail sectors some 320 kilometres away and had a lasting impact on the city’s commerce.

Many UK companies are unaware – or have underestimated – the financial losses that could occur if a key supplier or business partner (in the UK or internationally) were unable to operate for a significant period of time.

The human and financial cost of terrorism is growing rapidly. The Institute of Economics and Peace has estimated that the direct cost of terrorism to the global economy in 2014 was $52.9 billion – a ten-fold increase since 2000 – and the indirect costs at $105 billion.

Practical steps

Companies can’t predict all possible threats to their business. However, by working through a range of potential scenarios and consequences it is possible to make informed judgements and set appropriate priorities.

The following process is an effective way for companies to think about improving the management of these risks:

Step one: identify the threats.Understanding terrorists’ intentions and capabilities, what they might do and how they might act, is a crucial first step to assessing potential threats.

Step two: decide what you need to do to.Priorities should fall under the following categories: people, physical assets, information and process (supply chains and the operational process required to support the business).

Step three: identify measures to reduce risk.Companies should introduce new proportionate measures that: deter would-be terrorists; 
aid detection of intrusion; and
delay any attempts at intrusion.

Step four: continually review your security measures.Security and contingency plans should be rehearsed and reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they remain accurate, workable and up-to-date.

 

Terrorism Insurance

Since the IRA attack on the Baltic Exchange in London in 1993, the UK established a mutual government reinsurer, Pool Re, to provide a backstop to insurers that offer terrorism cover on business property and business interruption policies. This has worked well and despite £600 million of claims from 13 separate incidents there has been no use of public money.

However, the increasingly interconnected nature of global commerce means that UK organisations are not only exposed to events in the domestic market but many also have international exposures through the global reach of their business activities. Companies can also be impacted via a change in consumer behaviour in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

New threats and new risks require new insurance solutions and one insurer is now offering a contingent Loss of Attraction cover, for example.

As always if you have any questions regarding your business insurance please contact Forum Insurance on 020 8909 2899

By Anton Hilton 27 Nov, 2017
Here are some of the measures IT professionals believe are essential for protecting against cyber crime:

  1. Install anti-virus, web filtering and firewalls. The best way to secure against a cyber attack is to prevent an attacker entering your system in the first place. Implementing anti-virus, web filtering and firewalls are a must – and ensuring they are always up-to-date.
  2. Keep software updates up to date!
  3. Before you start shopping with any online retailers look for the security information in the address bar to ensure you see the letters “https:” to indicate that it’s a secure site. You might also see a little padlock symbol in the same line.
  4. Consider using an alternative form of payment that protects you a little more. An online payment service like PayPal has strong safeguards in place, and can serve as a go-between for you and the retailer – you can even use your regular credit card as a payment method within PayPal.
  5. In order to shop on any online retailer’s web site, you will most likely be required to create an account. When you do establish an account, it’s important to choose a strong password that has a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and don’t forget to throw in a mixture of upper and lower case.
  6. It is also recommended to create unique passwords, meaning you don’t use the same password for multiple websites.
  7. Check your credit cards routinely during the coming weeks to make sure there is no unauthorised activity, and remember to alert your bank if you have reason to believe that your identity has been compromised.
  8. If you have a business, keep your employees trained to be careful what they click on if receiving deals! They may not be from the well known brand they appear to be from – and this could spread a virus throughout your company’s system.
By Anton Hilton 20 Nov, 2017

Amish joins the family business after successfully managing the business through a change period, structuring the team to serve it’s core markets. Mamtora studied at Aston University prior to joining the family business some 4 years ago. In his new role he will be responsible for growing the business in both existing and unchartered sectors.

Managing Director Barry Mamtora said, “I am delighted Amish has chosen to join the family business and take it to the next stage. We have celebrated 25 years in business and I have every confidence Amish will maximise insurer partnerships and leverage our buying power to deliver the best risk management solutions for our clients.”

A number of key achievements have driven Forum’s growth in the past few years including the expansion into petrol forecourts where they have gained significant market share.

This appointment hails the next phase of growth for Forum Insurance.

Amish Mamtora said, “I am delighted to be appointed director at such an exciting time. The opportunity to continue Forum’s success story and utilise technology to our advantage is key to my plans for the future. It is an exciting time for independent broking.”

Forum Insurance are developing an ongoing client consultation programme, ensuring our diverse client base are best placed to understand the individual risks to their business.

Amish continued, “As a family business we share a common passion for excellent customer service and look forward to working even closer with our clients, delivering traditional personal service. This opens up some very exciting opportunities for our employees."

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