By now most people will know of the recent changes regarding mobile phone penalties – £200 fine, and 6 points via fixed penalty if stopped, and much higher fines if the case goes in front of a court. This includes being disqualified from driving and receiving up to £1000 in fines (up to £2,500 for vocational licence holders who should know better).

For new drivers you will have to retake their test under the ‘6 points within 2 years’ rule.

New information released by insurers also shows that:

  • If you are caught for speeding it is likely to result in a 14% average increase in your own private car insurance
  • If you receive a conviction for a hand-held mobile phone offence the increase in your insurance is likely to be between 20-30% – even if the offence was committed in a company vehicle
  • Currently there are 3 insurers who will decline to cover that driver next time!

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How does that work in practice?

When we’re sat in our cars and driving it can be easy to think that certain interactions with mobile devices might not be covered by this law, so let’s be clear – holding a mobile phone while driving for any reason, however brief, is against the law.

To break it down for you, the following interactions are illegal when the engine is on and you are not safely parked:

  • Checking or rerouting your sat-nav app
  • Reading text messages, viewing multimedia or watching videos
  • Changing songs or playlists
  • Checking social media apps

For further guidance on mobile phone use, check out the RAC’s website here.

In short the law states that it is an offence to use any hand-held mobile phone or other interactive communications device whilst driving.

Touching the screen of a device in a cradle is acceptable – holding a phone, even momentarily is not.

We recommend that, if your phone is not hands-free, you turn it off for the duration of the drive. If it is hands-free, keep it in a cradle, set your sat-nav before you start your journey, and keep phone conversations to a minimum.

Why have government done this?

Most people don’t deliberately exceed speed limits, instead they simply lose focus and speed creeps up unintentionally.

But a driver makes a deliberate choice to use a hand-held mobile phone in contravention of the law – and insurers don’t want to cover those who deliberately flout the rules. If you choose to break the rules it shows a deliberate disregard.

How can this affect business?

With insurance costs increasing, the personal impact on your employees could be huge. As mentioned previously, a 20-30% increase in insurance costs is a staggering rise and could have knock on effects for drivers, including added stress and strain.

For business insurance providers, it surely won’t take long before the impacts of this hit the organisation. When renewals come around, will they be asking if any of your drivers have mobile phone convictions? This could also mean businesses with fleet and grey fleet drivers exposing themselves to greater risk of drivers driving for work without licences in the short term.

With police forces introducing a crackdown on abuse of this law and with officers giving a greater focus to this, we are seeing a large number of points received in the short term.

It also allows for the possibility of higher insurance costs for fleet drivers when such penalties are taken into account. It’s important that all drivers help spread the word so we can influence more people and create a safer driving climate.

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We offer a driver licence checking service for businesses so that they can get real-time, visible data on the status of their driver’s licences.

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