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A recent survey by insurance firm Stavely Head has revealed further shocking information that almost 60% of drivers have admitted to using mobile phones while driving – some in stationary traffic but others while actually on the move. The survey included information from a sample of 3,700 drivers, which also included 254 HGV drivers, of which more than half said they used their phones while driving.

 And HGV drivers aren’t always using their phones for directions, to make work calls or other functions related to their jobs (not that this would excuse mobile phone use in any way) but rather many are on social media, taking photos or – as in the recent case of HGV driver Tomasz Kroker – changing the music in the cab.

Cab Cam Stings Reveal Shocking Images

The HGV community, and the entire country, has been rocked by the recent news that a family of four were killed by an HGV driver for a completely avoidable reason. Tomasz Kroker, 40, was looking at his phone while driving on the M20 near Ashford, Kent, when he hit a car at 50 miles per hour 10 August 2016. In the car were 45-year-old Tracy Houghton, her sons Ethan, 13, Josh, 11, and her step-daughter Aimee Goldsmith, also 11. All four were killed instantly, while Tomasz Kroker survived.

 The horrific accident was captured in footage from inside Tomasz Kroker’s cab, and the in-cab footage has now been released to the public in an attempt to spread awareness of the dangers of driving while being distracted by a mobile phone.

As a result of this tragic accident, the Daily Mail has also launched an investigation into HGV drivers’ phone use, and has observed and shared photos of HGV drivers illegally using their phones whilst driving. In a 90-minute period on the M20, the same road where Tomasz Kroker killed a woman and three children and just 24 hours after the accident, the Daily Mail spotted 17 drivers using their phones while on the move. This included one driver using both hands to fiddle with his phone, while paying no attention to the road.

 What can ultimately be done about this dangerous negligence remains to be seen – if a terrible accident the previous day doesn’t deter drivers on exactly the same stretch of road, then measures need to get much tougher. The police recently launched a new initiative, whereby an unmarked HGV drives the highways of the UK and photographs HGV drivers who are driving without due care and attention. HGV cabs are too high off the road for a police car to be able to spot any driver using their phone, but with another HGV it’s possible to see, snap and stop drivers caught displaying this terrible habit.

Police Powers Waning

Fines for drivers using their phones are actually decreasing, with police handing out just 46 fixed-penalty notices a day, and the total given to drivers in England and Wales down from 123,100 in 2011 to just 16,900 in 2015. This is despite figures such as the AA poll showing that mobile phone use while driving is actually causing more accidents as time goes on. Mobile phone use is now the single biggest cause of all road traffic accidents in the UK, according to the AA poll. The RAC puts this reduction in fines down to a lack of police resources to be able to find and effectively tackle these haphazard drivers in action.

 Safe drivers would no doubt welcome tougher sentencing and penalties for unsafe drivers caught using their mobile phones while driving. Terrible accidents like that involving Tomasz Kroker ruin not only the lives of the victims and their families, but also the lives of the HGV drivers involved and those of their families, as the driver is usually likely to be jailed for a long time.

DFT Calls For More Penalties

Earlier this year, the Department for Transport proposed tougher penalties for drivers found using their mobiles phones, and this latest accident is likely to have an impact on those discussions. At HGV Training we are thorough about teaching all our drivers to be safe, including restricting the use of mobile phones only to times when it can’t affect the safety of their driving. We join the calls for much tougher and more consistent measures to catch HGV drivers who don’t take the right care.

 What do you think can or should be done about this problem?


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