Rhode Island’s new “hands-free” driving law goes into effect on June 1, 2018. This law prohibits you from holding your phone up to your ear while driving. The law permits the use of “hands-free” devices, such as the phone’s built-in speakerphone, a Bluetooth earpiece or similar hands-free features. Violators face a $100 fine, but there is a one-free-pass provision, which suspends the fine for first-time offenders so long as they show proof that they bought a hands-free device after they received the ticket.
Employers should ensure that their employees are aware of the law and remind them that they are expected to follow all laws when driving a company vehicle or on company-related business. This would also be a good time to revisit your employee handbook to ensure that it informs employees that they must refrain from texting while driving as well as holding their phone to their ear while driving a company car or on company business. You may also want to consider buying or making hands-free devices available for employees who are often on the road.
Finally, employers should check their insurance policies to confirm they have coverage for any accidents caused by their employees while driving on duty. You do not want to discover after the fact that there is no coverage for an accident caused by your employee because at the time of the accident the employee was talking on the phone and operating a company vehicle in violation of the law.
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