Employers – Did you know that, as of today May 1st, 2014, New Legislation on the Use of Mobile Phones While Driving will be effective?
For some time now it has been illegal to talk on the phone or send text messages while driving. However, an amendment, effective 1st May, 2014, will tighten up on the rules which saw some people dodge penalties if the phone was operated while resting in a “cradle” or via a hands-free kit, for instance.
The amendment to the existing legislation governing phone use while driving, which was signed by Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, on 11th April, 2014, makes it an offence for an individual to “hold” a mobile phone while driving a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place.
Holding the mobile device includes supporting or “cradling” it with any part of your body (not just your hand) e.g. between the neck and shoulder. It is not a requisite that a person is actually engaged in a conversation on the phone. Similarly a person sending or even reading a text message (including SMS/MMS), or accessing information via the internet/e-mails etc. is committing an offence if “holding” the device as outlined above.
Sending or reading a text, in this instance, does not include anything done without touching the mobile phone or through voice activation.
The offence is punishable on conviction with a fine of up to €1,000 (first offence). The fine could reach €2,000 for a second offence. Three offences within 12 months could see a motorist face a 3 month jail term in addition to a fine. This is in addition to penalty points.
Close to 10,000 people were detected holding a mobile while driving in the Republic of Ireland between the beginning of January and the end of March 2014.
Assistant Garda Commissioner, John Twomey, communicated the staggering statistic that a motorist is four times more likely to have a collision when using a mobile phone.
Employers should issue employees with a notice detailing the important new regulations so that they are aware of their responsibilities. This notice should also serve to inform the employees that the Company will not cover the cost of road traffic offences including fines received under the penalty points system. Your notice should let employees know that these costs will be borne by the employee regardless of whether the vehicle was being driven for private or business use at the time the offences occurred.
We have prepared a sample Notice to Employees to help you to explain the new legislation – this can be downloaded by clicking the button below.
We hope you find it helpful!