Since December 2003, it has been illegal to drive in the UK while using a hand held phone.Â However, hands-free devices werenâ€™t included in the ban.
But legal experts are now warning fleets and their drivers that they could fall foul of the law if they are involved in a collision, even while using a hands-free phone.
The warning comes in the wake of new research (by Brake and Direct Line) that shows hands-free use has increased from 22% in 2006 to 38% today.
Although many drivers believe that using a hands-free device is legal, unfortunately the law is not that simple.Â If a driver is involved in a collision while using a hands-free device, they may still be open to prosecution for not being in proper control of the vehicle, or even for dangerous or careless driving.
More so, even if an employee uses a mobile device with a hands-free kit, there is a risk of prosecution to the employer if the police can prove that employees were pressured to use devices to the extent that they become distracted by calls or other interactive communications.
Research by TRL found driver reaction times to be 30% slower while using a hands-free phone than driving with a blood alcohol level of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood (the UK limit), and nearly 50% slower than driving under normal conditions.
The report goes on to suggest that people are four times more likely to be involved in an accident whilst using a mobile phone, whether hands-free or not.
Despite a lack of support for a total ban amongst fleets, more than 60% of respondents in a survey acknowledged that the use of a hands-free device while driving does distract drivers, with one in five (21.4%) agreeing that they contribute to serious accidents.
The bottom line is that the safest course for employers might be to instruct employees not to use a mobile device for any interactive function while driving.
At Drivers Direct, we make it our business to know the law inside out when it comes to driving.Â By reading and understanding the small print, we ensure all our drivers are highly trained and aware of the rules and regulations applicable to them.
So for peace of mind and a guaranteed supply of legally compliant drivers, contact Drivers Direct today.