Fleet News

Fleets in call for clarity over hands-free phones

WIDESPREAD confusion about which hands-free mobile phone kits will be legal from December still exists within the fleet industry.

A number of fleet managers raised concerns at a recent East Anglia regional meeting of the Association of Car and Fleet Operators, citing fears of which type of hands-free kit will be covered under the impending legislation.

Fleet managers called for more clarity on which hands-free kits will be valid, from hand-operated ear-pieces to Bluetooth kits. The Department for Transport (DfT) has issued clarification citing that only hand-held phones will be covered under the new legislation, with all hands-free kits left alone.

A DfT spokeswoman said: 'Hands-free kits will not be covered in the new legislation. This includes kits held in a cradle or using an earpiece, but this is not to say that the driver will not be stopped by the police.

'Although hands-free kits will not be covered under this offence, the police could stop you for driving dangerously or without due care and attention, so you could still be charged under other legislation.'

Hand-held kits which plug into a cigarette lighter or require the driver to touch the earpiece to activate the system will also not be part of the legislation but, again, drivers could be prosecuted for driving without care when using them under current UK laws.

The DfT spokeswoman added: 'Driving with any type of mobile phone is dangerous. The DfT will not say that hands-free kits are legal as you may still be targeted under other legislation.'

Fleets throughout the country are having to re-write risk management policies to cover the new legislation.

However, a recent survey completed by software company cfc solutions, which polled almost 300 fleets with a minimum of 10 vehicles, found that 13% still had no mobile phone policy in place. It also showed that more than a third of the companies surveyed already totally ban the use of mobile phones (39%) and 42% provide drivers with hands-free kits.

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