As many people are now aware, from March 1st, 2017 the penalties issued to motorists caught driving whilst using a handheld mobile phone have doubled. This means that anybody who is caught driving whilst also using a handheld mobile device can expect a £200 fine and 6 penalty points on their licence. In addition, there will no longer be the option to take part in a National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) training course instead of taking the points on your licence.
This is especially serious for young drivers and those people who have held their licence for less than two years, as they are likely to have their licence revoked on the first offence. The amended law applies not only to mobile phones, but also other “interactive communications devices”.
The change in legislation has caused some confusion to drivers, including our own Class 1 HGV drivers, so this guide attempts to clarify the questions that many people still have.
The solution for many people is a hands-free device, which is allowed for making telephone calls but only when used safely, and via technology like Bluetooth and in-car voice activation. Headphones and PDA’s also count as hands-free as long as the main device is in a suitable cradle. You cannot use a handheld mobile device when you are stationary in traffic or at traffic lights, but you can use your mobile phone as a sat-nav for navigation as long as again it is hands-free and securely fixed into a cradle.
There is also an exemption for certain a two-way radios used under certain frequencies. This was created so government and private organisations (e.g. taxis) can still use them.
There is also an exemption if you are dialling 999 in a genuine emergency, but even then it must still be safe to do so and not put other people at risk.
Even if the device you are using does not fall within the mobile phone legislation, (hands free or not), if you are not in control of your vehicle properly or you are deemed to be driving badly, you can still be prosecuted for not being in proper control of your vehicle, for careless driving or for dangerous driving, of which the final two carry much more severe penalties.
The key is always being in full and proper control of the vehicle.
The news is good for the treasury, however, as they will receive all of the money received from the increased fines. As was the case previously, drivers will be able to contest the offence in court, but you risk facing a greater penalty if you lose.
Regardless of what the legal position is, if you are working as an HGV driver, then you need to be fully aware of the policies and procedures of your employer, as they may take an even stronger line.
One of Silver Arrow’s major clients, Brit European, takes a zero-tolerance approach to the use of mobile phones and PDAs whilst driving without a hand’s free kit, including when stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic. They also require that any handsfree device must be factory fitted or fitted by a Brit European approved supplier. As an employee or agency HGV driver you must, therefore, consider that failure to observe these rules can result not only in legal action but may cost you, your job.
At Silver Arrow, we would remind all of our drivers that it’s important to remember that driving requires 100% concentration at all times, otherwise you are putting your own life and everybody else’s in danger.
About Silver Arrow
Silver Arrow is a specialist recruitment agency that focuses on the recruitment and placement of temporary and permanent drivers of all classes.
We offer temporary, temporary to permanent or permanent assignments, with a focus on compliance and quality, 24/7 customer service, and a simple streamlined administration and timesheet approval process for our customers.
We specialize in placing our drivers into a range of sectors including general haulage – articulated (LGV CE) and rigid (LGV C) transport, fuel and chemical distribution (Pet. Reg. and ADR), automotive distribution (car and low loader), self-unload (HIAB and truck mounted forklift), and IPAF.
As a group, we are proud to be ISO 9001 accredited and recent winners of the Motor Transport and the Automotive Supply Chain Global awards. By being built on a strong foundation we are able to deliver a professional, compliant, and cost-effective service to our clients.