Banning the use of Mobile devices whilst driving
Do you have a sufficient policy banning the use of mobile devices whilst driving for work purposes? With the recent introduction of the new law which came into effect on 1st March 2017 it is more important than ever that your company policy is very clear about its stance in this area. If you are in need of expert HR support for your business, then get in touch.
From 1st March 2017, penalties for using a mobile phone while driving will increase from a £100 fine to £200, and from three licence points to six. Drivers caught using a phone within two years of passing their test will have their licence revoked under the new legislation, which cover England, Scotland and Wales.
New drivers who get six points or more must retake their practical and theory test, and experienced drivers can be banned if they get 12 points in three years. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500. For more information on what you can and can’t do, check the Government Website for advice & guidance.
Recent Statistics are worrying
A survey carried out by the National Accident Helpline in February 2017 revealed some shocking statistics about employees using their mobile devices for work purposes whilst driving. With one in twenty people admitting to checking or sending work emails whilst driving, and the figure doubling for employees aged between 18 – 24 years. The most common reasons stated for using mobile phones while driving was adjusting maps (10%), making or receiving a call (9%), texting (8%), browsing social media (5%) and checking or sending a work email (4%).
Marcus Lamont, Group HR Director at National Accident Helpline, said that employers need to enforce the law:
“Staff, particularly younger employees, should be trained that its ok to wait until you get to the office to check and reply to emails. For some this may mean a change in company culture, especially where it’s become the norm to expect quick replies to messages outside of working hours”.
Recent Case Law
In October 2016, the horrific case where lorry driver Tomasz Kroker killed a mother and three children while distracted by his phone, saw him being jailed for 10 years. During the court hearing they heard that an hour before the pile-up, Kroker had signed a declaration to his employer, promising he would not use his phone at the wheel. He was also found to have lied to his bosses about whether he had been distracted, claiming he had the radio on. But the dash cam evidence showed otherwise, and the truth was clear that he had been distracted by his phone.
How should employers react?
With new legislation taking a tough stance on banning the use of mobile devices whilst driving, it is important that employers follow suit. It is common practice for employers to ensure this topic is covered within the Company Handbook, and often backed up with a separate policy, but it will now be imperative for companies to ensure they also take action against offending staff. Issues with vicarious liability should be addressed, with adequate training being provided to all employees, especially those where driving is a core requirement for the completion of their role. Retaining evidence of such training will continue to be an essential responsibility for companies that do not wish to be facing legal action at the hands of their employees.