Does Your Employee Handbook Include a Cell Phone Usage While Driving Policy?
Cell phone usage, including texting, is all too commonly cited as the cause for accidents when the driver is operating a motor vehicle. Some states have restrictions on limiting drivers to hands-free devices while operating a motor vehicle. Wisconsin law, however, only has restrictions on cell phone usage for drivers by requiring hands-free device usage in road work zones, except when reporting an emergency. In Wisconsin, there is technically no blanket rule banning the use of cellphones while driving, but “distracted driving” in general is prohibited. (Talking on a cell phone while driving is permitted (for most drivers), but texting while driving is unlawful for all drivers).
Against this backdrop, many Wisconsin employers have chosen to include their own “distracted driving” policies in their employee handbooks. A distracted driver policy that puts firm, clear limits on behind-the-wheel cell phone use may limit an employer’s liability, and better protect everyone on the road.
An example of a distracted driving policy is as follows:
Employees may not talk or text on their cell phones while driving for work, regardless of whether they use hand-free devices. If an employee needs to talk on a cell phone for work purposes, the employee needs to pull the motor vehicle over prior to placing or accepting any cell phone calls, texting, or operating the cell phone in any other way.
The topic of cell phone usage by employees (both while driving and in general during work hours) should be considered when employers are updating their employee handbook as to whether to include a specific policy on cell phone usage. Of course, enforcement of a strict “no phones while driving” policy will be a challenge, and the policy should contain a caveat allowing drivers to use phones in the case of an emergency.
If you have any questions about updating your company’s employee handbook to include a cell phone usage policy or any other employment-related issues, please do not hesitate to reach out to Shannon Allen by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (262) 754-2870 or another DeWitt LLP Labor & Employment attorney.
THE ABOVE COMMENTARY SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. IT IS BEING PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.
About the Author
Shannon A. Allen is an attorney in DeWitt’s Labor & Employment, Litigation, and Trust Administration practice groups. She provides legal counsel and support throughout all aspects of her representation, including crisis management. Shannon works closely with both her business and individual clients to develop appropriate strategies to address their specific concerns.
Contact Shannon by email or by phone at (262) 754-2870.
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