Employment Discrimination Blog

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Georgia Employers Should Update Their Driving Policies Now

What changes will the new hands-free law mean for Georgia employers?

Georgia’s new hands-free law went into effect on July 1, 2018. The law is anticipated to bring widespread changes to both private drivers and employers who require employees to drive on the job. Passed in response to alarming rates of distracted driving accidents, the hands-free law prohibits drivers from physically holding a wireless telecommunications device while driving. This law expands on the already existing ban on texting while driving. Our Atlanta, Georgia employment law attorneys explore what actions employers should take to ensure their employee driving policies comply with the new state law.

Driving Employees Must Put Down the Phone

Per HB 673, known as the Hands-Free Georgia Act, all Georgia drivers, except emergency responders, are restricted from physically holding a wireless device. As company drivers will often try to take phone calls or send emails while on the road, employers should update driving policies to require that employees use a hands-free Bluetooth earpiece or another voice enabled device. Employers may wish to ban cell phone use entirely and instead require employees to make needed calls when safely parked.

Commercial drivers are subjected to a further limitation. They can only use one button to start or end a voice based communication. Employers will want their driving policy to reflect this additional restriction and list legal ways in which the employee can communicate on the road.

Driving Employees Cannot Send Internet Data

In addition to the hands-free requirement, HB 673 contains another somewhat confusing prohibition. Per the law, drivers cannot send internet data while behind the wheel, but could in some circumstances use their phone hands-free for offline activities. For instance, drivers could use their phones to play music while driving only if the music is stored offline. Accessing the internet to play music would be prohibited.

Employers will want their driving policy to either clearly distinguish between permitted phone use and illegal internet data or just ban use of these services entirely to eliminate the potential for problems. Employees that may require access to the internet to perform their job will need to find a legal place to safely park. Employers across the state should consult with an employment law attorney now for assistance with updating their driving policies today.

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