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If you are a company driver, whether you operate a van or some other sort of vehicle for your job, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) believes you deserve to be penalised more harshly for repeated mobile phone offences. According to ACPO lead officer on road policing, Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, delivery drivers and sales associates should face stiffer punishments for using mobile phones while driving for work.

Davenport told the Daily Mail that company drivers should face higher fines and a ban if caught twice. She believes that professional drivers pose a greater level of risk as compared to everyone else on the road. She did not elaborate on why this is so, in her official comments, but she nonetheless believes that stiffer penalties would be an effective deterrent to stop professionals from using mobile phones while driving.

The Daily Mail says that there were 21 road fatalities in 2014 attributable, at least in part, to mobile phone use. Serious injuries occurred in an additional 84 accidents in which mobile phones were involved. There are no statistics to say how many of these accidents involve professional drivers or those whose jobs require driving to get from one sales point to the next.

A Dangerous Precedent

Neither Davenport nor the ACPO has offered any evidence proving that company drivers or professionals who drive as part of their work are involved in a disproportionate number of actions involving mobile phones. Therefore, to develop a two-tiered system of punishing offenders would be a dangerous precedent. If mobile phone use makes driving dangerous, it is equally dangerous regardless of who is behind the wheel.

The problem with developing a two-tiered system is obvious: where does it end? Would professional drivers face stiffer penalties in the future for other sorts of violations as well? Would we eventually reach a point in which company drivers and their employers are burdened with the lion’s share of responsibility in making our roadways safe?

Our questions are not mere speculation; there is history rooted in all of them. For example, it is the transport and haulage industries that pay the majority of the road levies that keep the infrastructure intact. Professional drivers – especially HGV drivers – are usually considered the guilty parties in road accidents until they can prove their innocence. There are numerous examples of professionals already shouldering a greater burden of responsibility than non-professionals.

Professional Driving Serious Business

We wholeheartedly agree that professional driving is a serious business. We agree that company drivers need to take their responsibilities seriously as well. But we also believe that the road haulage and transport industries already do an excellent job of ensuring responsible drivers. It is but a small number of the professionals on the road who decide to break the law.

Developing a two-tiered system for punishing mobile phone offences is to tell non-professionals that they are essentially free to do what they want. At the same time, it punishes company drivers unfairly.

Sources:

  1. The Daily Mail – https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3423705/Business-drivers-harsher-punishment-using-phone-wheel-Police-chief-s-plan-sparks-fears-two-tier-justice.html

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