New technology developed for use by the police and road safety groups to cut the volume of people using a mobile phone while driving underlines the importance of employers having in place a robust policy to eliminate usage.
To crackdown on the volume of drivers using a mobile phone whilst driving, Thames Valley Police and Hampshire’s Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit have become the first forces in the country to utilise new technology to help reduce the amount of people using their mobile phones whilst driving.
Working with technology company Westcotec, the Joint Operations Unit is using the system to detect when drivers are using their phones without using a hands free device.
First piloted by Norfolk County Council’s Road Safety team at various locations last year, the technology is able to identify what type of signal is being transmitted or received by a mobile phone handset and whether it is being used via a vehicle’s Bluetooth system. When the relevant signal is detected indicating that a mobile phone is being used within a vehicle, a road sign - similar to a speed warning sign - is activated as the vehicle passes, giving a specific flashing visual message designed to prompt a driver to stop using their phone.
- Using a mobile phone - hand-held or hands-free - while driving is deemed to be a major driving distraction with attention taken away from the key task of driving. At-work drivers are more likely than most to use a mobile phone while driving and, according to research, users are four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing themselves and/or other people.
- Using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving is illegal. The penalty is £200 and six penalty points, with a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if driving a lorry or bus) if the case goes to court. If a case goes to court, the person may be disqualified from driving. Drivers can use hands-free phones when driving. However, if a police officer thinks a driver was distracted and not in control of their vehicle they could still get stopped and penalised.
Furthermore, employers could be prosecuted if any police investigation determined that an employer required use of any mobile phone while driving for work contributed to a crash. Additionally, compensation claims from victims could be pursued in the civil courts.