View our state-by-state list of cell phone restrictions.
Cell phones have become a valuable tool in conducting business as more
employees are using them to perform their jobs. Among other things, they
help boost productivity by keeping employees connected to the office and
to clients. However, cell phones also raise a number of issues involving
safety, security, and privacy.
For employers, there are liability issues. For example, if an employee
has an auto accident and harms someone while making a work-related cell
phone call, the employer as well as the employee may be found liable.
Several lawsuits have been filed against employers as well as the employees
themselves who have harmed someone allegedly because of cell phone use
while driving and doing business at the same time.
The best advice for employers is to check state and local laws and to
instruct employees in writing not to use cell phones while driving. They
should also be instructed that if they receive a cell phone call, they
should let voice mail answer it and/or call back when they can stop at
a safe area.
If employees must use cell phones while in their cars, the following
safety guidelines may help:
- Always dial while the car isn't moving.
- Never use the phone in heavy traffic or bad weather.
- Use speed dialing as much as possible.
- Use a hands-free phone.
- Never look up phone numbers while driving.
- Never have stressful conversations while driving.
- Keep your eyes on the road while on the phone.
In legislatures, concerns center on the effects of the increasing use
of mobile phones by drivers on the number of highway accidents. Proponents
of restrictions on the use of mobile phones while driving point to studies
that found the use of such phones contributes to distracted driving and
accidents. The authors of one study concluded that talking on the phone
while driving can lead to "inattention
blindness," or the inability to recognize objects encountered in the
driver's visual field.
Opponents of restrictions say there is insufficient evidence to conclude mobile phones are any different from other distractions
to drivers. They also argue against restrictions by saying that the phones
such as the ability to call for help in the case of an emergency.
No federal law prohibits drivers from using mobile phones while driving,
but some states and local jurisdictions have taken action. States that
have set rules have chosen different levels of restrictions. Some states
prohibit the use of handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle,
but they allow the use of hands-free devices.
Other states put restrictions on certain drivers, such as bus drivers
or young drivers. In 2003, the National Transportation Board recommended
that all states bar inexperienced drivers from using mobile phones while
Many states are collecting data on the role of cell phones in accidents,
which may lead to more legislative action.
In addition, corporations like ExxonMobil are taking note by barring employees from using handheld mobile phones
while driving on company business. Read more on this in the White Paper, below.