Under new UK laws coming into force from 1 March 2017, penalties are increasing for using a handheld phone at the wheel. For most it will mean 6 points and £200 fine, but for new drivers it will mean having to retake their practical and theory tests.
With police able to check phone and internet records, it is easy to see if there is any activity during a journey. The fact that a text or email was sent whilst at a red light or stuck in traffic is irrelevant - it will still be illegal.
This is a timely reminder to ensure that you have effective policies and monitoring in place to cover those employees who drive as part of their role. Having a clear policy statement that outlines use of a handheld phone whilst driving is prohibited and a disciplinary offence should be the bare minimum. Employers also need to consider how they will deal with an employee who loses their driving licence.
Some companies have gone much further however, confirming that even hands-free equipment should not be used whilst driving. Lost time, cost, injury and PR may mean that taking the call was just not worth it.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "It may seem innocent, but holding and using your phone at the wheel risks serious injury and even death to yourself and other road users." Doubling penalties will act as a strong deterrent to motorists tempted to pick up their phone while driving and will also mean repeat offenders could find themselves banned from our roads if they are caught twice. Calls to prevent drivers using phones intensified last year in the wake of several high-profile cases and research indicating that it was widespread. In 2015 - the latest year for which figures are available - 22 people were killed and 99 seriously injured in accidents where a driver was using their phone.