Gov. Charlie Baker signed An Act Requiring the Hands-Free Use of Mobile Telephones While Driving on November 25. The law takes effect 90 days from the date of the governor’s signature.
The law may have a significant impact on companies with employees who are on the road with a need to communicate with the home office or customers.
The law does not focus solely on telephones but on “electronic devices.” While the statute does not define an electronic device, the presumption will be that any iPhone, smartphone, tablet, GPS system or other electronic gadgets that someone may use in a vehicle will be subject to this law.
Violators face new penalties that may include fines, remedial education, and insurance premium surcharges.
The law defines hands-free mode to mean that a user engages in a voice communication or receives audio without touching or holding the device. The measure permits drivers to execute a single tap or swipe to activate, deactivate or initiate the hands-free mode feature.
The law provides for limited exceptions such as the use of a mobile electronic device in response to an emergency. The law defines an emergency as when the vehicle’s operator needed to report that:
The fines under this statute are progressive in nature:
An operator who commits a second or subsequent offense shall be required to complete a program selected by the registrar of motor vehicles that encourages a change in driver behavior and attitude about distracted driving. It is likely that if there is any fee associated with attending this class, the cost will be borne by the employee.
The law also provides that if a person commits a third or subsequent offense it will be a surchargeable event against the driver’s insurance.
An operator found to be violating the law the first time will receive a warning up until March 31, 2020. After that, the law will be fully effective.
AIM HR Solutions has developed a model policy. It is available to all handbook subscription service members as part of their annual policy program. Other AIM members interested in receiving a copy of the policy should contact Beth Yohai or Kyle Pardo at 617.488.8335 for more information on the cost of the policy.
AIM members with questions about this or any other HR-related issue may call the AIM Employer Hotline at 1-800-470-6277.