Recent Figures from the
Department of Transport suggest that an overwhelming 90% of people
agree with the mobile phone law (not using a hand held device whilst
driving) yet 20% admit to breaking the law. It is also suggested
that you are 4 times more likely to have an accident whilst driving
if using a mobile phone.
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In December 2003 it became an offence to drive a vehicle whilst
using a hand-held device. The penalty at the time was a fixed £30
fine which could be increased to £1000 on conviction in court (£2500
for drivers of goods vehicles or passenger vehicles with 9 or more
More recently, as of the 27th February 2007, the penalty has been
increased to £60 and for the first time 3 penalty points will be
issued against the offender.
So what you may ask? Well the catch for Employers is that the
legislation also makes it an offence to "cause" or "permit" another
person to drive while using a handheld device. Many Employers
require their employees' to be on the road whom, more often than
not, are issued with a mobile phone in order to be contactable or to
report in regularly etc.
There may exist a culture where the Employee feels he must answer
the phone regardless of the fact that it is against the law. In
these circumstances it would be easy to see why a prosecution may
follow on grounds of "causing" or "permitting" the offence to take
Consider further the potential of a Health and Safety Executive
Prosecution following an accident of one of your employee's whilst
driving in the course of his employment using a mobile phone to take
a business call.
As an employer you have responsibility to safeguard the health and
safety of your employees' and to carry out risk assessments to
identify risks. A failure to deal with this particular issue leaves
you wide open to a prosecution.
Another concern now is that your employee may lose his or her
licence if the 3 points in aggregate with other points totals 12.
What do you do where it is an essential requirement of the job that
the employee has a licence?
First thought would be to dismiss after considering all the
alternatives. But this may be contested by an aggrieved employee who
says "but my Employer insisted I answered the phone whilst driving
"or "he always phoned whilst I was on the road and wouldn't provide
me with a hands free kit"
The problem can be easily tackled by adopting a clear mobile phone
policy which strictly prohibits the use of "hand-held" phones or
devices while driving. It must be made clear that employees, who are
driving a vehicle, must not make or accept a call or text on a
hand-held device unless parked with the engine switched off.
It should be made clear that Employees found to be in breach of this
policy would be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
Where hands free kit is provided to tackle the problem it would
still be advisable to ensure there is a policy governing such use.
Keep calls to a minimum.
Make sure that calls can be received and made without taking the
hands off the steering wheel ie. voice dialling and auto-answering.
Even then express your preference that calls are made when
stationary and the engine switched off.
If you require any advice or assistance in developing or
implementing your "Mobile Phone Policy" please feel free to contact