We’ve all been there. You’re behind the wheel when you hear the tempting tone of an incoming text. What would you do? What would your workers do?

Every week, 100 people are seriously injured or killed while driving for work, leaving employers open to possible prosecution. Research shows that using even a hands-free mobile phone while driving is a significant distraction that substantially increases the risk of crashing – and it’s long haul and company car drivers who are most likely to dial and drive. Protect yourself and your team with tips to keep every journey phone-free.

Penalties

They penalty for using a hand-held mobile phone or device whilst driving now sits at six license points and a £200 fine. A goods vehicle or a vehicle adapted to carry more than eight passengers can be fined up to £2500 if the driver is not considered to have proper control of the vehicle. In the event that the matter comes before a court, a discretionary disqualification can also be imposed.

Imprisonment

The police also check phone records when investigating fatal and serious crashes to determine if a driver was using a phone. Using a phone in this situation can be considered an aggravating factor, potentially leading to imprisonment if someone was killed or seriously injured.

Employers carry the can

Employers who require their staff to use any mobile phone while driving for work could be prosecuted under health and safety law if an investigation determined that using the device contributed to a crash.

Employers’ duties?

All organisations have a responsibility to implement suitable policies and practices that ensure any equipment they provide is used appropriately and properly.

Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Do you have a mobile phone usage policy?
  • Do you enforce any policies with regards to driving and mobile phone use?
  • Do all users of mobile phones in vehicles used for business have ‘hands free’?
  • Do you have a protocol in place when talking to anyone (staff or customers) on a mobile to ensure that it is safe to do so?

By considering these four points, you will be on the right track to demonstrating that you, as an employer, have considered the implications and taken suitable steps to prevent any of your staff falling foul of the law.

Top tip

It is recommended that employees activate Bluetooth then put their phone out of reach, e.g. in the boot or glove compartment. That way, they can answer calls within the law without being tempted to check texts or emails while on the road.