New York Rolls Out “Text” Stops

You might have missed it, but earlier this month, significant new restrictions when into place that govern when the driver of a car can use his or her cell phone.

Previously, Connecticut’s law restricting cell phone use by drivers was limited to times when the motor vehicle was in motion.  Thus, people were free to check their phones at a stop light, for example.

However, the new law now changes the definition of “operating” the motor vehicle to make it clear that drivers typically should not be using their cell phones at all. 

“Operating a motor vehicle” means operating a motor vehicle on any highway … including being temporarily stationary due to traffic, road conditions or a traffic control sign or signal, but not including being parked on the side or shoulder of any highway where such vehicle is safely able to remain stationary.

These changes make it improper to now drive while using a mobile phone — even when stopped at a light or in traffic.  There are some other limted exceptions to this as well (navigation systems are one exclusion, hands free devices are another) but they are narrower than ever before.

For employers, particularly those that have employees that use vehicles for business purposes, the new law should serve as a reminder to update your policies and educate your workforce about these new cell phone restrictions. 

Having an updated cell phone use policy in place can reduce an employer’s exposure to lawsuits arising out of accidents (though will not eliminate the risks to an employer.) 

And be sure to followup on enforcement too. After all, having a policy that is ignored by your employees won’t do you much good upon a lawsuit.