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Bring in the New Year by Giving the Gift of Headsets???

Contributed by Julie Proscia

When looking for holiday presents for your employees, companies might want to forgo the turkey and instead give wireless headsets and Bluetooth devices.  Although we discussed the ban before, it is a good time to remind everyone that starting January 1, 2014, the Electronic Device Use Ban in Vehicles, PA. 98-506 goes into effect. PA. 98-506 is the statewide ban that prohibits drivers from using handheld wireless telephones, digital assistants and portable computers while driving.  Drivers that do not adhere to the ban will be fined $75.00 and the fee for every subsequent offense will increase by $25.00, with a maximum fine of $150.00.  Drivers are still able to use hand-held cell phones with hands-free technology (i.e. Bluetooth or hands-free speakers), as well as navigation systems and electronic systems if they are physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle as long as they are not in a school or construction zone. Employers should make sure that all of their electronic communication/driving policies and procedures are updated prior to January 1, 2014. The policies should include language that specifically prohibits the usage of handheld devices while driving on duty, and clearly articulates that drivers that fail to follow this prohibition will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Moreover, the policy should note that employees are wholly responsible for any and all fines and fees assessed for violations of the act. These simple additions to your policy, and maybe even stockings full of headsets, may prevent possible employer liability if an incident or accident were to occur.

2 Responses

  1. Can an employer mandate that employees are not to use hand-held cell phones with hands free technology while driving company vehicles at any time. Our Insurance company safety training considers talking on the phone even with a hands free device distracted driving.

    • Thank you for your comment. Yes, an employer may mandate that an employee use hands free devices when driving company vehicles, at any time, regardless if it during work hours or not. In fact, we recommend that this requirement is added to a company’s cell phone and electronic communication policy. Employees that then do not do so can be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

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