When carrying out courier work, it can be tempting to glance at your phone to check your messages, especially if you’re stuck in traffic.
If you do give in to temptation and pick up your handset, the trouble is that you’re not only putting yourself at risk of a fine, but are potentially risking your licence and your livelihood. This is because new and more stringent rules about the use of mobile phones when driving were implemented in March 2017.
To make sure that you remain on the right side of the law while carrying out courier work, here is a breakdown of current regulations on using a handset while sitting behind the wheel.
It has always been illegal to use your phone while driving. However, even stronger penalties were put in place this year in an effort to deter drivers from picking up their handsets.
The fine for being caught with your handset has gone up from £100 to £200, a fine which now comes with six points on your licence. New drivers (those who have held a licence for less than two years) can lose their licence after just one offence.
If the case is taken to court, you could be looking at fine of up to £1,000, while for HGV drivers it could be as much as £2,500.
Most drivers doing courier work will use their phone as a business tool, employing it for navigation and for managing jobs. While this is fine as long as your device is mounted in a phone holder, you may not touch it while driving.
However, even if you’re not holding your device, it’s important to focus on the road. In fact, police are allowed to stop you and fine you if they believe that you have been distracted from driving by your device.
Texting While Driving
It hardly needs to be said, but texting while driving is not only incredibly dangerous – seriously risking your own safety and that of other drivers – but it is, of course, also illegal. If you are caught checking your phone or sending texts, you will receive a fine and six points on your licence.
Calling Emergency Services
This is the only time when it is acceptable to use your phone while driving, but even in an emergency, you’re only allowed to call 999 or 112 if there is no safe or practical way of stopping beforehand.
If You Need To Use Your Phone
If you need to use your phone while doing courier work, you must pull over safely and switch off your engine before touching your handset. Be warned, though: if the police consider that the place in which you’ve stopped is unsafe or causes an obstruction to traffic, you could still be penalised.
While these rules may sound strict, especially considering that our phones today are often like an extension of ourselves, these guidelines and penalties have been put in place to improve road safety. If everyone follows them, there’s a big chance that we’ll be able to work together to decrease the high number of accidents that are caused by drivers using their handsets each year.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.