Burnaby, British Columbia – The British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) Traffic Safety Foundation is offering guidelines to help businesses large and small develop safe driving policies for their employees following the provincial government’s ban on cell phone use while driving.

“Cell phones have made getting a hold of someone almost instantaneous,” said Allan Lamb, executive director of the Foundation. “The luxury of instant communication is being abused by drivers, in some cases with deadly results, and legislation like this will hopefully save lives.”

Recognizing the danger and cost to companies when employees are injured due to traffic crashes, the Foundation has drafted an employer’s policy for cell phone and texting use. A template and guidelines have been posted on BCAA’s Web site.

“This policy is intended for use by companies and organizations whose employees drive as part of their job description,” Lamb said. “There are many businesses in this province that operate fleets of vehicles and they will need to address the new legislation with their employees.”

The law, which came into effect on January 1, 2010, prohibits drivers from operating or holding hand-held cell phones or other electronic devices; sending or reading e-mails, texting, operating or holding hand-held music or portable gaming devices, and manually programming or adjusting GPS systems, whether built into the vehicle or not, during driving.

Only hands-free cell phones and devices that require one touch to activate them will be permitted. Drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) are prohibited from using all prescribed devices, including hands-free cell phones. A new $167 fine will begin to be levied on February 1, 2010, and if drivers are caught texting or e-mailing, they will receive an additional three penalty points. Drivers in the GLP will receive the fine and three penalty points for any violation of the legislation.

For more information, visit the “Hot Topics” section at BCAATSF.

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