EXPERT: Natali Farrell, of Just Motor Law
In our latest Expert Blog, Natali Farrell, of Just Motor Law, gives her view on how you can stop your fleet drivers from using their mobiles while on the road…
Using a mobile phone whilst driving is often referred to as a minor road traffic offence.
However, the reality is that such an offence can have tragic consequences, particularly when somebody using a mobile phone whilst driving causes an accident.
The government has recently increased the fine for using a mobile phone whilst driving to £100 from £60, while the number of penalty points issued for the offence remains the same.
Although an increased fine may put some drivers off using a mobile phone behind the wheel, but as a change in our legislation would have to be implemented, this is not likely to happen.
Those who drive for a living spend a large proportion of their working day on the road, and, as a result, are likely to be more vulnerable to the temptations of using their mobile phones whilst driving.
However, if employers were tougher on those employees who broke the law, they may be persuaded to think twice before doing so.
Some argue that employers need to take more responsibility for offences committed by their employees during working time in order to provide a more effective deterrent, so it is vital that employers display a zero tolerance attitude to motoring offences.
There are a number of ways that employers can toughen up their road safety policy in order to ensure they can demonstrate steps they have taken to prevent unsafe and careless driving.
The first is to ensure that they had a road safety policy in place which covers the use of using mobile phones whilst driving to begin with.
This policy should highlight the risks involved.
Secondly, employees should be aware of the consequences should they fail to adhere to the policy.
There are the obvious legal penalties in place, but it may be worth employers implementing a fine or a warning themselves, with more than two offences resulting in disciplinary action.
Another ‘must’ for employers is to ensure that hands-free or Bluetooth systems are fitted in company vehicles.
Although most newer vehicles have such systems fitted as standard, older models will not.
Employees should also be given training on how to use these in-car systems, so that ‘I didn’t know how to operate it’ can never be given as an excuse.
Finally, I would always advise employers to undergo regular reviews with employees to ensure that they know what is expected of them on the roads.
A company’s drivers are its ambassadors, and legalities aside, they should always behave in a manner that promotes high standards and consideration – qualities that every right-thinking business will undoubtedly be promoting anyway.