Tougher penalties for drivers using mobiles are being considered in a bid to improve road safety. It may lead to more bans for those who tot up points for multiple offences. Trevor Colebourne, motoring expert at Vincents Solicitors, warns employers to beware.
Driving while using a handheld phone has been illegal since 2003. A reckless and unnecessary distraction, causing 21 deaths in 2014 alone, it is nevertheless still a regular occurrence. The authorities have made repeated attempts to crack down on the practice, and it is hoped these new plans will turn the tide.
Proposed changes would see car drivers receive four points rather than three, while HGV drivers would get six, a reflection of the danger posed by these vehicles. The associated fines would also go up from £100 to £150, but it is the prospect of a ban which the Government hopes will make the difference.
A car driver would tot up 12 points and an automatic ban with three offences while an HGV driver would only have to be caught twice before having their keys taken away, and that’s without including any existing points for speeding or other offences.
Having someone on a driving ban can be a major headache for an employer, especially a fleet-based business such as taxis, road haulage or field sales. But the fact is most people rely on their car in some way. Tradespeople drive to and from contracts, and even office-based staff have to get into work or meetings off site. These changes could have far reaching effects. It’s not just a personal issue for the employee; bosses must consider the risk it poses to their business. Ensuring employees are aware of the regulations, and the consequences of a ban, could be a good investment.
Get advice on implementing a safe driving policy, reminding employees of what constitutes a driving offence and outlining the potential penalties. Highlight the risk to your business and to their employment, and make them aware that a driver who avoids a ban by arguing an “exceptional hardship” defence gets only one bite at that cherry, so repeat offenders need to know their bad habits at the wheel could be very costly.