On August 1, the expanded “hands-free” technology-while-driving law goes into effect in the State of Minnesota. This means when a motor vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic (yes, that means while stopped at a stoplight), the driver is prohibited from using a wireless communication device without hands-free technology to:
Penalties are $50 for a first offence (plus court fees) and $275 for each offense thereafter. Read here for more facts and information from the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety.
Although the new statute does not impose criminal penalties on employers if an employee is violating the statute while driving for work duties, employers still need to care. When employees are expected to drive for work purposes, an accident can have legal implications and may expose your business — especially if you have bare-bones policies or practices (or none at all) requiring employees to follow the law, among other things.
In order to reduce the risk of causing harm to your employees or others (or property damage), here are five things you should require in an employee driving policy (for non-CDL drivers):
Also keep in mind an additional consideration if employees are driving a company vehicle: they must keep any work vehicle clean and in good repair, and notify a supervisor if any vehicle needs maintenance. Consider sending a memo notifying your employees of your policy and reminding them of their obligations.
Making sure you have a clear policy for employees will hopefully reduce the risks on the road, as well as legal exposure to the company. Stay tuned for our next “hands-free” article this fall addressing CDL safety and prevention programs, policies, and practices. If you are an ABRC HR Solutions Client, feel free to contact the Hotline as ask for the updated Minnesota sample Vehicle and Equipment policy.
Heather offers practical guidance and helps employers find solutions to employment law and compliance matters.
Heather educates and advises employers on all aspects of employment law, including compliance with state and federal laws, leaves of absence, discrimination, harassment, accommodations, discipline and discharge, wage and hour obligations, unfair competition, and other issues that arise in the workplace. In addition to Heather’s employment counseling, her background includes nearly a decade of litigation experience. Her prior experience includes litigating for a regional insurance company, business disputes, and employment.
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