The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has published a new guide on hand-held and hands-free mobile phone devices designed to promote safety, efficiency and compliance in the goods transportation sector.

The law is clear; the guide notes that it is a serious offence to use a hand-held mobile phone when:

  • driving a vehicle or motorcycle

  • stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic

  • supervising a learner driver or rider.

The only exception to this is in case of a genuine emergency where a hand-held mobile phone can be used to call 999 or 112 — but only if it is unsafe or impractical to stop.

Employers needing or allowing employees who drive for work purposes to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving can also be guilty of an offence.

The guide also points out that although it is legally permitted to use hands-free phones, satellite navigation systems and two-way radios when driving, police can still stop a driver and issue a penalty if they feel that a driver is distracted and not in control of a vehicle.

The RHA recommends, when using hands-free mobile devices, that calls always be kept short and never include detailed discussions while driving.

Companies should also explain to their drivers that outgoing calls when driving should be avoided, and a driver has the right to end any call at any time when driving. Extended discussions should be discouraged.

The RHA says, “We recognise that the use of hands-free devices and telematics is an essential business tool in the road haulage industry. However, these devices must be used as safely as possible.”

The Government is reviewing the law around the use of mobile devices in vehicles. Proposals for changes to current rules are expected in the first half of 2020.

Last reviewed 8 November 2019