Regulation 110 of the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 makes it an offence to:
- use a hand-held mobile telephone or a hand-held device, other than a two-way radio, which performs an interactive communication function by transmitting and receiving data
- cause or permit an other to drive a motor vehicle whilst the other person is using a hand-held mobile phone or a hand-held device as described above
- supervise a provisional driver whilst as supervisor using a hand-held mobile phone or a hand-held device as described above
- using the device to call 999 or 112;
- genuine emergency
- unsafe or impracticable to stop driving in order to make the call
A mobile telephone or other device is to be treated as hand-held if it is, or must be, held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication function.
Therefore if you hold the phone to make a call whilst driving and then put on speaker phone and place the phone on the central console or on your lap whilst you talk then an offence has happened. Like wise if you answer the phone by pressing a button or interacting with the screen and then place the phone on the console or your lap.
Currently the normal fixed penalty is £100 and 3 penalty point. It seems that is to be increased to £200 and 6 penalty points.
The only queries I have about all of this is:
- What are the implications for employers of people using their vehicle as a mobile office or as part of their work duties?
- How come the police and others can use hand-held devices whilst driving and apparently do so safely?
The law includes an offence of “causing or permitting” a driver to use a hand-held phone while driving. This can apply to employers who will be guilty of an offence if they require or permit their staff who drive for work, to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.
Employers would be unwise to respond by supplying their staff with hands-free kits. Even if the use of these while driving does not contravene the specific ban on hand-held phones, employers could fall foul of health and safety laws if an investigation determined the use of the phone contributed to an accident.
The “Driving at Work” Guide from the Health and Safety Executive makes it clear that employers have a duty under health and safety law to manage the risks faced by their employees on the road. And one of the biggest risks they face is when using mobile phones while at the wheel. Research clearly shows that using a hands-free phone while driving is just as dangerous as using a hand-held phone – there is little point in having both hands connected to the steering wheel, if the brain is not connected to the hands.
There are good reasons for providing mobile phones to staff who drive for work, especially for lone workers and staff who will be travelling through areas where access to a public phone is difficult. If a member of staff breaks down, for example, they need to be able to summon help. Some employers provide mobile phones for certain staff and others reimburse the cost of work related calls made on private mobile phones.
But, this should not mean that staff use the phone while driving. As part of the management of work related road safety, employers should provide employees with clear guidance on the use of mobile phones. The use of hand-held or hands-free phones while driving should be prohibited, particularly as there is a simple alternative – let the phone take messages and return calls when stopped in a safe place.
RoSPA has produced a free guide, “Driving for Work: Mobile Phones” to help employers and line managers ensure that their staff do not use mobile phones while driving.
As to question 2, I would imagine that the response from fire police and ambulance-and others-is that staff are given training so they can drive safely whilst communicating and that it is an essential part of their job-as emergency personnel-to be able to communicate whilst driving. Then why can’t other people access this training, become certified in the safe use of hand-held mobile devices if, for whatever reason, that is necessary for them?