Does your company allow employees to text or e-mail while driving for business? Even if not expressly allowed, is it an accepted practice among employees?
In light of the new Massachusetts safe-driving law, employers should adopt and consistently enforce a written policy prohibiting texting while driving. Such a policy will put employees on notice that the company takes the new law seriously and requires compliance.
A no-texting policy could also protect the employer from liability should an employee, while driving for company business, injure or kill someone as a result of conduct prohibited by the law.
Moreover, while Massachusetts’s safe driving law does not prohibit talking on a cell phone while driving, employers should consider adopting a policy prohibiting employees from using cell phones while driving for business purposes. At the very least, companies that allow cell phone use should promote safer cell phone use by requiring hands-free technology, or that an employee pull over and stop the car before using the phone.
Governor Deval Patrick signed the safe-driving bill on July 2. Here are the highlights:
- Bans all operators of motor vehicles, including law enforcement officers, from text messaging.
- Prohibits drivers under 18-years of age from using any type of cell phone or mobile electronic device, whether hand-held or hands-free.
- Requires drivers age 75 and older to renew their license in-person at a registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and to undergo a vision test every 5 years.
- If physicians or law enforcement officers have cause to believe an operator is not physically or medically capable of driving safely, they may report their opinion to the RMV for a medical evaluation.
- Prohibits operators of public transportation vehicles from using any type of cell phone or mobile electronic device, whether hand-held or hands-free.
- Drivers who have three or more surchargeable incidents within a 24-month period will be subject to an examination to determine their capacity for driving safely.