Payroll & Business Experts Blog

OSHA May Fine You If Your Employees Text While Driving

Posted by PrimePay Business and Experts Blog

Jul 5, 2011 12:15:00 PM

texting while driving workplace policyThe top priority at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is keeping workers safe.  The leading cause of worker fatalities year after year are motor vehicle crashes.  Distracted driving dramatically increases the risk of such crashes.  The Department of Labor and OSHA have partnered with the Department of Transportation to combat distracted driving through the website distraction.gov.  Distraction.gov is the official U.S. government website dedicated to stop distracted driving.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act states that employers must provide a workplace free of serious recognized hazards.  It is well recognized that texting while driving dramatically increases the risk of a motor vehicle injury or fatality. 

What’s Your Workplace Policy on Texting While Driving?
OSHA recommends that employers should prohibit any workplace policy or practice that requires or encourages workers to text while driving.  Texting while driving greatly increases the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash. 

Employers who require their employees to text while driving or who organize work so that doing so is a practical necessity even if not a formal requirement violate the Act.  When OSHA receives a credible complaint that an employer requires texting while driving or who organizes work so that texting is a practical necessity, OSHA will investigate and where necessary issue citations and penalties to end this practice.

Does Your Employee Handbook Have a Cell Phone Use Policy? 
If your personnel manual or employee handbook doesn’t currently have a cell phone use or texting while driving policy, you may want to make sure you add this information.  Several examples of these policies are shown below to help give you a good start on creating your own. 

Here is an example of a cell phone use policy…
Employees driving on Company business who have access to a cell phone while in their cars should remember that their primary responsibility is driving safely and obeying the rules of the road. Employees are prohibited from using cell phones to conduct business while driving and should safely pull off the road and come to a complete stop before dialing or talking on the phone.

Here are several other examples of cell phone use policies as well as texting while driving policies…

Hand-Held Cell Phones Banned in 10 States
Many states have already banned cell phone use and texting while driving.  What may surprise you is that more states have banned texting while driving than prohibiting the use of a cell phone while driving.  Talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving is banned in 10 states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Utah and Washington as well as the District of Columbia. 

The use of all cell phones by novice or young drivers is restricted in 30 states and the District of Columbia.  The use of all cell phones while driving a school bus is prohibited in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has put together a table and maps showing the states that have cell phone laws, whether they specifically ban text messaging and whether they are enforced as primary or secondary laws.  A primary law means that an officer can ticket the driver for the offense without any other traffic offense taking place.  Under secondary laws, an officer must have some other reason to stop a vehicle before citing a driver for using a cell phone. 

Texting While Driving Banned in 34 States
Text messaging is banned for all drivers in 34 states and the District of Columbia.  In addition, novice or young drivers are banned from texting in 7 states: Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia and school bus drivers are banned from text messaging in 3 states: Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas.  Many localities have enacted their own bans on cell phones or text messaging.  In some but not all states, local jurisdictions need specific statutory authority to do so.

 

Topics: OSHA, employee handbook, human resources, state compliance

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