From the start of March 2017 new and much stricter penalties have been introduced for driver caught using their mobile phones while driving.
They mean that drivers will now receive six points on their licence and a fine starting at £200, both double the previous penalties. The new penalties also mean that new drivers, with less than two years’ experience after passing their driving test, will lose their licence.
Since the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 employers have had a duty to ensure that other people are not put at risk by work-related driving activities and further regulations in 1999 require employers to manage health and safety effectively.
What do the new penalties mean for employers?
Firstly, if your business employs drivers, or sub contracts them, do you have a mobile phone policy in place? If not, it would be wise to introduce one. There is plenty of guidance for employers from the RoSPA (Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents) in their leaflet.
If you do have a policy, do you ensure that a copy is given to all employees, not only to all drivers, but also their supervisors and managers? Do you regularly check that they know and understand the policy and observe it?
The new penalties mean that employers will need to consider and perhaps modify aspects of their driver employment policies.
Are new and existing drivers given training and reminders about the policy and how often are their licences checked?
Firstly, when taking on a new employee who will be required to drive, it may be wise to set a maximum limit to the number of penalty points permissible on their licence. If, for example, they already had six points, another six would see them banned. Employers therefore need to consider whether they would even appoint someone whose licence already had six penalty points.
The other aspect of this is the cost of induction training for a new employee. If they have been driving for less than two years and they are caught and convicted of using a mobile while driving, they would automatically lose their licence. This would represent a wasted investment in training for the employer.
Another thing to consider is how frequently to check the licences of employee and sub contract drivers.
It may be that as a result of the new, harsher penalties, employers will need to check licences more than once a year, perhaps even monthly, to be on the safe side.
While some employers may choose to revise their driver policies to ban all use of mobile phones during work hours this may not always be practical. At the very least, it would be sensible to ban all use of mobile phones within vehicles even when they are stationary as part of driver policy.
What is the law on mobile phone use and driving?
Given that in 2015 – the most recent year for available figures – 22 people were killed and 99 seriously injured in accidents where a driver was using their phone it is worth repeating the law:
It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving, whether the vehicle is on four wheels or two. The rules are the same if you are stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic
Seems the message is not getting through,290 new drivers caught in the first 6 months of the update in points and fine http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42189068
It is also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.