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The chief executive of courier giant DPD has admitted breaking the law by taking photographs on his mobile phone while driving on a motorway. Dwain McDonald, who oversees a network of 5,000 professional drivers who deliver for John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Amazon, boasted about how he used his phone to take a picture of a DPD van while driving on the M62 between Manchester and Leeds.
McDonald admitted to the crime while giving a slide presentation, which was captured on video and posted to YouTube in 2016. Thirty-two people were killed in the UK in 2016 as a result of drivers using mobile phones and it caused 105 further serious accidents, according to the latest official crash statistics.
“I am taking a photograph while I am driving and you shouldn’t really do this,” he said, before describing how he saw a courier van ahead of him that didn’t have the correct logo on its door. “I pulled level with him and I can see the driver. He’s thinking, ‘Who’s this weirdo in a black car?’ I pull back, so I get my phone out. Illegal, I’m sorry, I know, but boof, takes that picture.”
He said he wanted to show his managers who he was on his way to meet that he was unhappy at the lack of attention to detail the van driver was showing.
“On the left-hand door, it should say DPD – in big letters, DPD,” he said. “I said, ‘Come on, it’s not acceptable.’ That door must have been damaged and replaced but because they wanted to use the van again, they didn’t finish the job. That’s the attention to detail. It’s not acceptable.”
DPD’s contracts with its self-employed drivers includes a clause insisting that they comply with all laws and regulations and the company reserves the right to terminate their contract if they breach any conditions. Depots also display posters reminding drivers not to use their mobile phones while driving. When the digital handheld unit that drivers use is switched on for the first time, it warns them not to be distracted by it while driving, couriers said.
The DPD health and safety policy, signed off by McDonald himself, states: “Managers and supervisors are expected to lead by example.” It says: “Employees must not knowingly act in a way that damages the reputation of the company or causes either them or the company to be in breach of the law.”
A spokesperson for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Driving is the most dangerous thing most of us do on a daily basis; it is a complex task, which requires your full attention to do so safely. Using a mobile phone to take photographs at the wheel, regardless of their purpose, is dangerous behaviour that increases risk of a crash resulting in death or serious injury.”
DPD declined to comment on the remarks. McDonald’s admission emerged at the end of a week in which the firm was widely condemned for its treatment of Don Lane, a driver for the company for 19 years who died from diabetes after he was fined for missing a delivery because he needed to attend a doctor’s appointment to treat the illness. DPD later said it was “profoundly sorry” that Lane had been charged.
Lane’s case threw up road safety concerns because he collapsed twice at the wheel of his van, once while delivering parcels in Dorset. His doctor also raised concerns about how Lane was being monitored to ensure that he was fit to drive according to DVLA guidance.
The government’s road safety literature makes clear it is “illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving. This includes using your phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media. This applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queueing in traffic.”
Research published in the British Medical Journal suggests that drivers using their phones are four times more likely to be in a crash.
According to the RAC, 23% of drivers admitted to using a handheld mobile at the wheel to make or take a call in the past 12 months, and 12% admitted to checking texts, email or social media.