NEW laws governing the use of mobile phones while driving could place fleets in a legislative nightmare if they fail to have approved hands-free kits installed in their vehicles.
Industry body MIRA is urging fleet decision-makers to check the kits they buy and have them professionally installed.
The automotive testing and research facility says that it is an offence to sell or install equipment that does not comply with a section of the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) in Vehicles Directive, which safeguards other electronic equipment in the car.
Terry Beadman, certification and inspection manager at Mira said: 'The product must be approved and comply with EMC requirements to ensure it will function correctly.' When purchasing a hands-free kit, fleet managers must ensure it is marked with an 'e' code which ensures compliance with the directive.
They should also ensure that the mark is indicated with the code 'eYY 02XXXX', where YY is the number for EU country of issue and XXXX is the certificate number. If this marking is not on the product it is not automotive approved.
Beadman added: 'Fleets should ensure the installation is carried out by professionals who are competent to check the complete functionality of the vehicle after the installation, including road testing if necessary. The fleet driver should not get vehicle functionality surprises after an installation.'
The Government announced earlier this month that it will be illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving from December 1. Offenders will be fined between £30 and £1,000 alongside three points on their driving licence (Fleet NewsNet July 3).
Employers could be prosecuted if they 'cause and permit' the use of phones and by refusing to give drivers hand-free kits, they could be liable to prosecution. The Department for Transport (DfT) has produced guidance on the directive.