Fleet News

Warning over drivers who keep on phoning

THE vast majority of UK employees admit to taking business calls on mobile phones while driving, with a third of them using handheld units, a new survey has found.

Its results come days after the government announced that from February 27, drivers caught using a handheld mobile while driving will get three penalty points on their licence and a fine of £60.

The tough new law should encourage fleets to ensure they have proper policies in place governing the use of phones in cars, experts say.

Risk management consultants RealTime Risk Assessments carried out the survey and said their results showed that 75% of employees took business calls while driving, with 29% of those using a handheld mobile.

Solicitor David Faithful warns that under the new laws, it is not just employees who face prosecution if involved in an accident when using a mobile on the move.

He said: ‘Employers are legally obliged to have a mobile telephone usage policy in place. If one of their staff crashes while on a business call, directors could be prosecuted under health and safety laws.

‘Simply telling an employee not to take calls isn’t good enough and even supplying them with a hands-free kit doesn’t provide a ‘get out of jail’ clause.

‘The police will now routinely obtain mobile phone records of drivers involved in serious or fatal road accidents.

‘Use of a phone in the event of an accident is regarded by the courts as an aggravating factor in the same way as drink-driving and will result in a custodial sentence.’

Last week, the Department for Transport announced the date for the introduction of the new penalties, which came into force as part of the Road Safety Act.

Transport secretary Douglas Alexander said: ‘Research shows that talking on a mobile phone while driving affects your concentration and ability to react to dangerous situations.’

  • Fleet News took to the motorway for an hour last October and snapped around 20 drivers using handheld mobile phones while on the move.
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