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iPad mounted on dash — safety issues?

Release Date

02 October 2012

The use of electronic devices in motor vehicles to assist navigation can create safety issues. This question was recently answered by the experts at WorkplaceOHS.

Question

 
We have received a request from an employee to provide a dash mounting device for their iPad, presumably for the purposes of using the iPad for navigation because the employee spends a significant amount of time driving between locations for work purposes.

We do have a safe driving policy which stipulates that mobile phones are not to be answered while driving, and we could modify the policy to incorporate safety considerations of not using any electronic device while driving.

Would the provision of the dash mounting device be advisable? How could the safety considerations be best addressed?

Answer


Accessories used in cars (GPS, phones, iPads, etc) have long been a point of contention. There is no doubt that anything that distracts a person from driving increases the risk of accident or injury. How best to address this issue is not ‘set in concrete’.

Consultation mechanism

 
If you have a consultation mechanism such as work health and safety representative/s or WHS committee/s, you should bring this up in a meeting to get some opinions.

Can you discuss the purpose of having the IPad in the vehicle with the employee requesting it? If it is specifically for navigation, then you could consider including this in your policy and communicating this formally.

We can see how a GPS would be useful for a person who spends a significant amount of time driving between locations for work and my opinion is that it would be a reasonable piece of equipment to have in the vehicle provided it was used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Many OHS Experts may not be so convinced about having an IPad for the same reason.

Duty of care

 
The duty of care placed on the PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) means that whatever your decision, liability may remain yours.

There are responsibilities of both the business and the driver for safety and this is not only covered in WHS law, it is also part of the road safety laws.

An accident caused by a distraction of an iPad in the car may likely be your responsibility because you would have provided the equipment and condoned its use.

A guide

 
WorkSafe Victoria has a useful document titled Guide to safe work related driving (2008).

The following is taken from that document:

‘In-vehicle distractions: Distractions divert the driver’s attention from the driving task and impact on safety critical measures, such as stopping distances.

Common in-vehicle distractions are other passengers, drinking and eating, reaching for objects, personal grooming and being distracted by in-vehicle technologies or loose objects.’

Recent survey

 
A recent survey of young drivers showed that nearly 60% of young drivers said they had been distracted by adjusting an MP3 player.
 
Risk can be reduced by:

 

  • Not eating or drinking while driving
  • Pre-setting music/radio and climate controls
  • Securing any loose objects
  • Pulling over to adjust equipment, check maps or attend to personal grooming
  • Asking passengers to help with tasks (eg checking map for driver)

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