Employers React to Florida’s New Texting While Driving Law

By:  Timothy C. Haughee

October 9, 2013

In an effort to combat the steady uptick in motor vehicle crashes caused by drivers who were sending text messages or e-mails on their cell phones, the Florida Legislature passed the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law,” which was signed by the Governor and took effect on October 1st.  Under the law, a person may not operate a motor vehicle while e-mailing, texting, or instant messaging (or while reading received e-mails, texts, or instant messages) on their wireless devices.  The law, which includes some limited exceptions (such as the ability to text while stopped at a red light), can be found here.  Any person who violates the new ban commits a noncriminal traffic infraction and is subject to a $30 fine.

The new law should prompt employers to include policies in their employee handbooks that prohibit their employees from texting or e-mailing while driving on the job.  The written policies, which should be signed by all affected employees, should also provide that any fines assessed on an employee for violating the law are the sole responsibility of the employee.  Above all else, the policies should reiterate that motor vehicle safety should be the primary focus of any employee who drives while on the job.

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