THE fleet industry has welcomed the Government's decision to ban hand-held mobile phones while driving, and has warned companies that they should act now to ensure they have processes in place to deal with the change in legislation.
According to the Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO), the ban is an important step, but needs to go further still.
ACFO director Stewart Whyte said: 'Our view is that best practice demands that drivers should not even use mobile phones with hands-free, or even voice-activated equipment built into some more expensive models. We recognise that it is the act of holding a conversation which leads to a potential distraction and therefore increases the potential for accidents.'
However, Whyte added that ACFO remained concerned that mobile phones had been singled out for special attention, while 'smoking, eating, drinking, or reading maps while driving all remain subjective, on the part of any police officer who happens to see the action taking place.'
He added: 'The new legislation will move things forward in a positive sense, but we suspect that policing all the other different forms of 'distraction while driving' will remain patchy and unclear.
'At least fleet operators and managers can now plan positively for this new specific offence. We will now work with the membership to put forward some recommended clauses that fleets can incorporate into their fleet policies.'
The new offence is to take effect from December 1 with offenders facing fines ranging from £30 to £1,000. Drivers would also get three penalty points on their driving licences for each offence.
At the moment, motorists can only be prosecuted for using a mobile phone if they fail to keep proper control of their vehicle.