The perfect time to remind drivers of company policy - by FTA's Member Advice Centre

Posted on: Wednesday, 18 January 2017 by Alice Bayford

As normal service resumes in to the new year, some employers may notice their drivers have received new electronic gadgets such as a mobile phones, satellite navigation devices and iPods as Christmas presents.

Now is a perfect time to remind drivers of the company policy for using such devices in a safe and legal manner and of the regulations and potential penalties for non-compliance. Areas of legislation to be aware of are as follows.

Mobile phones

It is an offence to use a mobile phone whilst driving. The Construction and Use Regulations 1986, Regulation 110(1) and (2) state:

1. No person shall driver a motor vehicle on a road if he is using –
a. A hand-held mobile telephone; or
b. A hand-held device of a kind specified in paragraph (4)
1. No person shall cause or permit any other person to drive a motor vehicle on a road while that person is using –
a. A hand-held mobile telephone; or
b. A hand-held device of a kind specified in paragraph (4)

The penalty for driving a vehicle whilst using a hand-held mobile phone or other hand-held communication device (other than a two-way radio) is a fine of £100 plus three penalty points on the driver's licence.

Most drivers are aware of this but drivers could also be prosecuted for failing to have proper control of the vehicle, or the more serious offence of dangerous driving and this could happen not only when the driver is holding a mobile phone but also when using a hands-free device

Satellite navigation devices

The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) regulations 1986, section 104 (drivers control) states:
'no person shall drive or cause or permit any other person to drive, a motor vehicle on a road if he is in such a position that he cannot have proper control of the vehicle or have a full view of the road ahead’.

The Road Traffic Act 1988, section 41D states;
A person who contravenes or fails to comply with a construction and use requirement:

a. as to not driving a motor vehicle in a position which does not give proper control or a full view of the road and traffic ahead, or not causing or permitting the driving of a motor vehicle by another person in such a position, or

b. As to not driving or supervising the driving of a motor vehicle while using a hand-held mobile telephone or other hand-held interactive communication device, or not causing or permitting the driving of a motor vehicle by another person using such a telephone or other device, is guilty of an offence.

Under the fixed penalty offences, a driver can be fined £60 plus three penalty points on their licence for a breach of a requirement to control the vehicle. If the driver holds a vocational entitlement on their licence, this could also lead to a driver conduct hearing before the Traffic Commissioner at which point the driver’s vocational entitlement could be suspended for a period of time.

It is imperative that drivers are aware of the consequences of not complying with the regulations surrounding the safe use of such devices whilst driving.

In-car/cab cameras

There has been a large increase in the number of in-car or in-cab cameras being used but again it is important to use these cameras both sensibly and legally as drivers could again find themselves subject to a financial penalty. For companies installing cameras in their vehicles, it is important to ensure they comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act. This does not mean companies cannot install the cameras but they must use and process the data in a correct manner as specified in the act.

On a more general note, the actual fitment within the vehicle must also be legally compliant. The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, regulation 30(1) states:

‘Every motor vehicle shall be so designed and constructed that the driver thereof while controlling the vehicle can at all times have a full view of the road and traffic ahead of the motor vehicle’

This means that there should be nothing attached to the windscreen or placed in front of the windscreen that could be deemed to obscure the driver’s view of the road.

From an enforcement perspective, any device or sticker should not encroach into the swept area more than 40mm and there should be nothing encroaching on the area of windscreen directly in front of the driver. So any camera fitted to the windscreen inside a vehicle must not encroach more than 40mm into the swept area.

Another similar device to a camera is a driver monitor which monitors both the driver and the road to the front of the vehicle. A driver monitor is classed as an acceptable feature and their presence within the swept area of the windscreen is accepted, provided the installation does not seriously impair the driver’s view of the road.

Failure to comply with the requirements to fit any devices or place stickers on the windscreen so as not to encroach more than 40mm and/or obscure the drivers view of the road ahead can result in a penalty of £50.

 

FTA offers a wider range of services, including Van Services, to keep your operation running smoothly as well as a wide range of safety and compliance products in our Shop

 

(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)

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