Employers liable for drivers caught using mobile phones

Employers could be held liable if employees are caught using a mobile phone while driving on business.

Under new laws that come into effect on 27 February, the penalties for drivers who are caught using a mobile phone will increase from £30 to £60. They will also receive three points on their licence.

Where staff are driving on business, regardless of whether they are driving a company-owned car or personal vehicle, their employer could also be held liable for a £60 fine if police investigations reveal that the new laws haven’t been clearly communicated to staff.

Trevor Davies, health and safety officer at consultancy firm Croner, said: "The fleet manager should not only be saying this to drivers, he or she should be writing it clearly into the company handbook that driving while on the phone is inappropriate."

He added that fleet managers which have added hands-free kits to company vehicles must communicate to staff when these should be used. Even though hands-free kits are not included under the ban, Davies believed that multi-tasking while driving can be dangerous.

"If you are driving, you need 100% concentration, and if you are dealing with an important client you should also need 100% concentration," he said.