On 1st December 2003, new legislation came into effect which outlaws the use of mobile phones (except for dialling 999 in a genuine emergency when it is not safe or practical to stop) or other handheld devices (such as Personal Digital Assistants, MP3 players) while driving. Under the legislation, driving includes time spent stationary e.g. at traffic lights. Drivers who are caught face a £60 penalty plus 3 penalty points, or if taken to court, a fine of up to £1,000. The use of hands-free kits for mobile phones is permitted, although a driver using a hands-free phone or one in a cradle is still potentially subject to prosecution for failure to have proper control, or for dangerous driving, if involved in an accident.
Beware - under this legislation, employers could be held liable and risk fines of up to £2,500 if they 'cause or permit' employees to use their mobile phones without a hands-free kit whilst driving.
Ensure staff and doctors are aware of the new legislation; purchase hands-free kits (or ensure staff purchase their own) for those who need to use the phone for business while on the move. Specify in writing (in a Policy or other communication to staff) that they must not use a mobile phone without hands-free while driving, or any other handheld devices. Adjusting the settings of satellite navigation systems whilst driving may also be considered to fall within the scope of this legislation.
Subscribers to the members section of the FPM website can access a model Mobile Phones (staff use of) Policy in the HR index of the FPM policies and procedures library. If you are not a member, have a look at the information about the benefits of membership and how to subscribe.