Advice on the change of legislation for Employers           

The current regulation that came into force on 1 December 2003, it is a specific offence to use a hand-held phone, or similar device, when driving. The penalty is a £30 fixed penalty or up to £1,000 on conviction in court (£2,500 for drivers of goods vehicles, buses or coaches). Drivers still risk prosecution (for failure to have proper control) if they use hands-free phones when driving.

As from 27th February 2007 the penalty increases to £60 and 3 penalty points which are fixed and enforceable.

Here are some other reasons why it makes business sense to comply:

1. Penalty points can mean higher insurance costs or even driver disqualification

2. You face prosecution for dangerous or reckless driving due to distraction

3. It sends out the wrong message to your clients if they know you are talking on a handheld device

Legislation on mobile phones and driving

Here are some frequently asked questions:

Q1. What does the regulation say about hand-held phones?

The use of a hand-held phone or similar hand-held device while driving is now prohibited. A hand-held device is something that “is or must be held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication function”.

Q2. Is hands-free phone equipment allowed?

Provided that a phone can be operated without holding it, then hands-free equipment is not prohibited by the new regulation. Pushing buttons on a phone while it is in a cradle or on the steering wheel or handlebars of a motorbike for example is not covered by the new offence, provided you don’t hold the phone. However, hands-free phones are also distracting and you still risk prosecution for failing to have proper control of a vehicle under Regulation 104 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 if you use a hands-free phone when driving. If there is an incident, the use of any phone or similar device might justify charges of careless or dangerous driving.

Q3. Are employers guilty of an offence if their employees use a hand-held phone while driving?

The new regulations apply to “anyone who causes or permits any other person” to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. The Department for Transport considers that employers would not be liable just because they supplied a telephone or because they phoned an employee who was driving. However, employers would probably be liable if they required their employees to use a hand-held phone while driving and might also be liable if they failed to forbid employees to use such phones on company business.

Also remember, in some circumstances, for example if there has been an accident, a prosecution for careless or dangerous driving may be justified if a phone was in use at the time of the crash. The penalties on conviction for such offences include heavy fines, endorsement, disqualification and, in serious cases, imprisonment.

We have hands-free solutions to suit almost any budget. Spend from as little as £20 + vat on a phone holder with a personal hands-free headset or invest in a hardwired or Bluetooth hands-free car kit professionally fitted at a location and time of your choice.

For further help and advice or if you would just like a full copy of the guidelines and legislations please don’t hesitate to contact us.