Cell phones are part of everyday life, both at work and at home. We use our phones for everything, email communication, banking, staying connected via social sites, navigation, texting, and occasionally making calls. The cell phone has come a long way over the last 40+ years, with most almost all cell phones being considered “smartphones” in 2018. With all of this love for technology, it is easy to become dependent on these small devices, and states are now cracking down. Beginning July 1st, Georgia’s new ‘Hands-Free Georgia Act’, commonly referred to as the GA Distracted Driver Law, is in effect. This new law will require drivers to use hands-free technology when using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.
A distracted driver is someone who has taken their eyes off the road to send a text, change navigation, talk on the phone, or use it in any way while driving. Using your phone in the car seems trivial. Most use their phone to play music or to navigate to their destination. As harmless as this sounds, using your phone in a motor vehicle can harness some severe consequences. In 2015, 391,000 people got injured in a car accident due to a distracted driver. Yikes! That’s a lot of potential employer liability if the injuries occurred while driving and working.
If you are a Georgia employer or have employees in Georgia, you need to ensure your policies and practices enforce Safe Driving. Meaning, you confirm your employee handbook or other driving/safety policy language includes some sort of the following information:
“While driving, employees are not permitted to hold or support, with any part of the body, a cell phone or stand-alone electronic device (like an iPod or GPS). Those employees are further not permitted to write, send or receive any text-based communication while holding a device.
Employees are permitted to speak or text while using hands-free technology, a smartwatch, or an earpiece. They may also safely use a GPS or mapping app (assuming you are not holding this device).”
If your company has any employees who drive to work, drive for work, carry a smartphone with work email, or other work-related apps, this new law concerns your business!
If you need any assistance updating your employee handbook to cover this new law, or if you would like a free Driving Policy download, feel free to download it from The HR shop:
Stay safe ya’ll!