Back in 2003, it became an offence under UK law to use a mobile phone whilst driving. When the law first changed, I believe that we were all a lot more aware of the consequences; six penalty points on your licence and a minimum fixed penalty notice of £200. It was certainly enough to discourage most of us. I would ask the question, are you as vigilant now as you were eighteen years ago?
The Government are now seeking to tighten the law around using a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel. Currently a legal loophole means that you could escape prosecution if you are using your phone to take photos or videos or downloading music. It is currently a criminal offence to use a hand-held mobile phone to call or text whilst driving, but not for other actions such as taking photographs. Although taking photographs or videos is still very distracting, several drivers have escaped punishment in court due to the legal loophole (i.e the claim that you were not interacting with another person). The Government aim to tighten the law by prohibiting the use of any handheld mobile phones behind the wheel, for any purpose. This will make prosecutions for the use of mobile phones behind the wheel much easier for the police to enforce, as you could be prosecuted just for touching or holding your phone. A consultation is now underway for this with the results expected out shortly.
We would ask that you consider changing your company driving policy to completely forbid use of mobile phones whilst driving even if you have hands free. Even this still causes a distraction whilst driving.
Various online driver training courses are available from several fleet insurers free of charge, and you may feel this would be of benefit to yourself or your employees. Some insurers also offer on the road driver training at an additional cost. If this is something you would be interested in, we would be more than happy to investigate further on your behalf.
Remember: Leave your phone alone. Even with the ‘best-case’ scenario – you get 6 points on your licence. This could wreak havoc with your insurance premiums especially if you have several employees all with a number of points – that’s not even taking into consideration that they may also have an accident as a result of not paying attention.
It only takes twelve points to lose your licence; that’s only two mobile phone convictions before you are looking for new drivers.
By Helen Parsons – Broking Manager