Many of you will have heard in the news recently that the law has changed regarding the use of a mobile phone while driving. It is a criminal offence to use a hand-held mobile phone or any similar device while driving a motor vehicle. In fact, this has been the case since 2003.
Under the law, driving is defined as when the vehicle’s engine is running, even if the vehicle is stationary. From 1 March 2017, harsher penalties come into effect for drivers – 6 points and a £200 fine. In addition, the offence is now to be actively enforced by the Police.
If you have people who drive on company business, you have a responsibility as an employer to inform your employees of the law and the company’s position regarding using mobile phones during working hours when driving. You should communicate, without delay, to everyone who drives on company business, irrespective of frequency or length of journey, to let them know or remind them of the company’s policy.
It may also be time to review your Drivers Policy – the only time a mobile can be used in a driver’s hands is if their vehicle is safely parked and the engine is switched off. The only exception is if the driver needs to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
What impact does this have for your drivers?
- Use their phone as a satnav but only if it is mounted in a hands-free holder
- Listen to music and podcasts but only if their phone is in a hands-free holder or connected by Bluetooth
- Use a dashboard holder or cradle, earphones or a Bluetooth connection to their phone as these can be classed as hands-free
- Use smart watches and voice-activated software. However, your drivers may be liable for other offences as these devices can be a distraction
- Check social media or texts even if they are queuing in traffic or stopped at traffic lights
- Watch video clips under any circumstance
- Hold their phone while using its loudspeaker and/or use hand-held microphones
Generally, your drivers should be aware that using a hands-free is not illegal but any time that a driver’s attention is distracted is dangerous and may leave them open to prosecution for other offences.
For further information including a facts sheet, poster downloads, and video clips, please visit http://think.direct.gov.uk/mobile-phones.html .
If you need assistance in updating your employee handbook’s driving policy or producing a drivers policy document incorporating safe driving, please contact Anita Wynne at Beststart HR by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org calling 01438 747 747.