Fleet News

Fine gives drivers food for thought

REPORTS of a salesman caught eating a sandwich behind the wheel of his car receiving a £60 fine and three penalty points on his licence should send a warning to business drivers, experts say.

The man, from Salford, was driving on the A49 in Cheshire when he was stopped by police officers primarily looking to reprimand drivers using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel.

Bosses at fleet and fuel management company Arval say the case gives fleets food for thought and highlights the fact that under the recent extension of the Road Safety Act, eating behind the wheel is viewed by police with the same severity as using a mobile phone. Reading a map, documents or drinking while driving are all included under the penalty system, which dictates a mandatory three points and £60 fine.

Arval head of market analysis Mike Waters said: ‘Publicity surrounding the extension of the Road Safety Act has so far concentrated on penalties for mobile phone users with the potential of fines for other infringements of the act overlooked.

‘It is still unclear how police in each region will enforce the new legislation but the determining factor of punishment across the board is the inability of drivers to maintain control of their vehicle while undertaking these activities.

The only way to prevent drivers receiving multiple penalties is for firms and fleet managers to encourage an overall ban on eating, drinking and reading while behind the wheel. Hopefully this will encourage drivers to take more frequent breaks and reduce the temptation to multi-task when driving on company business.’

Cheshire police said the saleman’s offence was as serious as speaking on a mobile phone while driving. A spokesman said: ‘The law covers offences relating to drivers not being in proper control of their vehicles and not concentrating fully on the road.’

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