On July 25, 2014, Governor Hassan signed a bill into law that strictly limits the use of electronic devices, such as smart phones, while driving. The bill – HB 1360 – while intended as a public safety measure, will also affect how employers shape their cell phone or electronic device policies.
This new law prohibits New Hampshire drivers from using “any hand-held mobile electronic device capable of providing voice or data communication” while driving or while temporarily halted in traffic, at a stop sign or red light, or any other momentary delay. “Use” is defined broadly, and includes calls, reading or composing text messages or emails, accessing the internet on a device, and inputting information into a GPS. Drivers are still permitted to use their devices in emergencies or to call 911, and may use a Bluetooth or other hands-free function to send or receive information while driving, provided that the driver does not have to divert their attention from the road ahead. The exception for hands-free devices only applies to adult drivers, as teens under the age of 18 are not permitted to use electronic devices while driving except to report emergencies. The statute carries fines violations of the law, which increase in amount for each offense. The law takes effect on July 1, 2015.
Employers should review and update their cell phone or electronic device policies to confirm the policies are in compliance with this change in the law. An employer’s restriction on employees’ use of electronic devices while driving should be consistent with safety and require compliance with the law in the state of use. Employers that do not currently have cell phone or electronic device use policies may consider such policies given this recent law and the trend across the country on similar legislation.