Speaking at the annual meeting of the Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO) in Birmingham, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) fleet manager Sue Wilkinson said any driver using a phone in a car faces a disciplinary hearing.
The hardline strategy has worked so far. Wilkinson said: 'Fortunately we haven't had to discipline anybody over this yet but our policy is clear. It is against our policy to use a mobile phone while driving and disciplinary action will be taken if drivers are found doing this, including hands-free kits.'
Wilkinson's stance was backed by Royal National Institute for the Blind fleet manager Alan Miles, who outlined his company policy and added that any documentation on in-car equipment must be easy for fleet drivers to understand.
Miles said: 'We introduced a total ban in 1997 and that is written into our policy. We thought the most sensible approach was to ban them and we have expanded that to other in-car electronic equipment, such as laptops or portable fax machines. If a driver is caught using such a device then it is a disciplinary matter. A sensible move is to give clear and simple advice to drivers.'
And fleets have been told it is imperative they now introduce a policy outlining their company's view on drivers using phones in cars. The Government will soon introduce a new law banning the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving and the forthcoming legislation was discussed at the meeting.
David Faithful, a partner at Amery-Parkes solicitors, said serving fixed penalty notices to drivers who flout the mobile phone law once it is introduced was unlikely to deter drivers from using phones in cars.
He said: 'Drivers will carry on using mobile phones in cars until they are caught. I see this legislation as a political act – the Government wants to look as though it is doing something about the problem. It will not be a deterrent. It is up to fleets to realise that their drivers are at risk and to police it.'