NEW regulations about the use of mobile phones while driving apply just as much to employers in the south as to private motorists, accident prevention chiefs warn.

Details of the law regarding hand-held mobiles - coming into effect in December - have just been published by the government.

It will be a criminal offence to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving, or if it can be proved a call on a hands-free phone affected concentration.

Drivers breaking the law face disqualification, hefty fines or even jail.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "This will, therefore, apply to employers who will be guilty of an offence if they require or permit their staff who drive for work to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

"Employers would be unwise to respond to the ban on hand-held phones by supplying their staff with hands-free kits.

"Even if the use of these while driving does not contravene the specific ban on hand-held phones, employers could fall foul of health and safety laws if an investigation determined the use of the phone contributed to an accident."

The dangers of even using hands-free mobile phones whilst driving were graphically illustrated yesterday in the Daily Echo.

Former businessman and avid sportsman Timothy Sanders, 28, was left paralysed from the neck down when a car struck him as he cycled from London to see his girlfriend at his parents' home near Winchester.

The driver was using a hands-free mobile phone at the time of the collision. There was insufficient evidence in this case to prosecute.

Mr Sanders was awarded multi-million pound compensation following the 60mph crash near Guildford.