Effective October 1, 2010, Massachusetts will join 29 other states and the District of Columbia in prohibiting texting while driving. The Commonwealth’s new Safe Driving Law prohibits all drivers from using a mobile phone, or other handheld device capable of accessing the internet, from composing, sending or reading electronic messages, or surfing the internet, while operating a motor vehicle. The prohibitions apply even while a vehicle is stopped at a red light or stop sign. The prohibitions do not apply if the vehicle is stationary and not located in a roadway.

Employers should update employee manuals and policies to ensure compliance with the new Massachusetts law. An employer’s diligent enforcement of policies prohibiting inappropriate use of handheld devices will protect its employees and other members of the public from the hazards associated with such use, and protect the employer from potential liability on the basis of inappropriate use by its’ employees.