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Mar

Mobile Phones and Driver Awareness | A Praxis42 Practical4U

Posted by Tracy Seward

Despite all the publicity about the police clampdown on mobile device use in vehicles this month, many of us still seem to be unclear with regards to the law and its application.  Lots of questions dominate the Google home page in response to ‘Using mobile phones when driving’ as a search.

  • Can you use a hands-free phone when driving?
  • Is it illegal to wear headphones when driving in the UK?
  • What is a hands-free mobile phone?

In line with the Praxis42 Driver Awareness eLearning Course, this Praxis42 Practical4U aims to provide pragmatic advice to help you to steer along the safest route.  Here is the current position as we understand it.

The basics.

Let’s start with the basics.  If you are in charge of a vehicle and holding a mobile device in your hand to make a call, or to use any other functionality, then that is an offence and you will be prosecuted if caught.  Driving and being in charge of the vehicle includes if you are stopped at a red light, or stuck in a jam with your engine running, it is therefore still the same offence.

The law also covers ‘communication devices’.  It is illegal to interact with any devices, such as tablets, which can be used to communicate via messages, such as emails, texts or Social Media activity.  This applies even if they are anchored into position using a cradle or similar.

You only need to be seen by the police using a mobile when driving to find yourself facing a minimum of a £200 fine plus six points on your licence – and you could be sent to court at the discretion of the police where the maximum fine is £1,000 for car drivers and £2,500 for bus and goods vehicle drivers can be applied.  If this occurs within two years of passing your test, you will lose your licence.

‘Hands-free’ status.

However, the law does not prevent the use of a mobile phone which is paired with a hands-free in-car system or a blue tooth device, or housed in a cradle.  However, if a driver is considered not to be in proper control of their vehicle because they are using a phone, in these circumstances they commit the offence of ‘not being in proper control’ of their vehicle.

The same law applies to drivers eating at the wheel, changing a CD or even attending to an unhappy baby.  The penalties for being judged to be ‘not in proper control’ are a £100 fine and three points for a car driver which rises to £1,000 if it goes to court, or up to £2,500 for a bus or goods vehicle.

Implications…

If a driver is involved in any kind of incident, their mobile phone data will be examined.  If it was being used at the time or leading up to an incident for any purpose, they could expect to receive a prison sentence if they are found to be at fault.

According to ROSPA drivers using phones are four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing themselves and other people – and using a hands-free phone does not significantly reduce the risks.

Outside of the legal impact of this scenario, convicted drivers face significant rises in future insurance premiums and could face disciplinary action under the terms of the Employment Contract which could result in dismissal.

One exemption

Please also be aware that the one exemption is that drivers are permitted to make a 999 or 112 call when driving providing it would be unsafe or impractical to stop first.  If you require reassurance about this, visit the UK Government website.

Employers

As an employer, you may be subject to prosecution if you:

  • Cause or permit an employee to drive while using a phone without proper control of the vehicle
  • Require employees to make or receive calls when driving
  • If the employee drives dangerously because they are using a phone that the employer installed.

Our advice?

Here are seven things you should consider:

  1. Don’t use mobile devices when driving or in control of the vehicle as all the evidence shows that doing so means you are more likely to have an accident as you are distracted during and after a call.
  2. If your employer accepts that the risk is acceptable then ensure your vehicle has an integrated hands-free system or an aftermarket version and lock your phone in your glove compartment when driving.
  3. Alternatively, buy a cradle to house your phone and consider a Bluetooth earpiece too, this’ll improve driver awareness exponentially
  4. If you have the most sophisticated in-car hands-free system, you are still at risk of prosecution if judged to be ‘not in proper control’ – and if you are involved in an incident, the police will check your data records.
  5. If you are an employer with company vehicle drivers or even employees who drive their own vehicles on business, make sure that you have a ‘Vehicle Safety and Usage Policy’ or ‘Driving at Work Policy’ and ensure employees are properly trained and informed about how to comply. Employers can use our Driver Assessment tool to manage road risk and authorise drivers
  6. As an employee or employer, and particularly if you are a high mileage driver, undertake the Praxis42 Driver Awareness eLearning course which has lots of helpful hints. It can be purchased and completed online at any time and cost £25.
  7. And finally watch the brilliant 60-second film made for the AA by adam&eve, the agency that brings us the John Lewis Christmas adverts. It’s here

Driver Awareness

 

And finally, if you would benefit from any further advice on this matter, please contact Mike Stevens at Praxis42 at mike.stevens@praxis42.com or on 0870 446 4201.

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