March 2012, Business Fleet - Feature
How Fleets Are Reacting to the Cell Phone Ban
A new survey gauges reaction to the FMCSA’s ban on hand-held use of mobile phones while driving. Where do you stand, and how will you act?
Tom Larson, general manager of New York’s Big Apple Circus, plans to use technology to help his staff comply with the new ban on the use of held-held mobile devices while driving. Photo by Jason Rhee
Fleets Weigh in On Cell Phone Policies
Here is a sample of responses from various types of fleets regarding their cell phone policies, enforcement of those policies and reaction to the new FMCSA regulations.
“We’ll see how it goes for the coming circus tour season. I will certainly offer to provide drivers with dash mounts for their phones and headsets as needed — even apps or software for phones that are capable of dialing on voice command, so that they can comply with the regs when driving company vehicles.”
- Tom Larson, Big Apple Circus, Brooklyn, N.Y.
“We take safety very seriously at McPherson Oil. Our implementation of ZoomSafer software has given us confidence that our drivers are in compliance with the FMCSA cell phone regulations. We use it to enforce our policy of zero phone use while driving.”
- Charles Tipton, McPherson Oil, Trussville, Ala.
“Sempra does have a cell phone use policy. … Sempra does not currently have an all-out ban on cell phone use while driving; however, a few departments have implemented a zero cell phone-use policy while driving on company business. Enforcement of this policy is generally approached by responding to public calls received from an 800 number on our fleet vehicles, with investigation and follow-up with both the public and the employee witnessed to have been driving in an unsafe manner.”
- Tony Orta, Southern California Gas Company, Sempra Energy Utilities
“Driving and talking or messaging is strictly prohibited. But I met with each driver and made sure that if they got into an accident, the first order of business would be to pull the records on their phone. If it was a legal case I would — and have — use litigation or subpoenas to retrieve the information for court cases. No one has a problem. If caught, they understand the consequences.”
- Frank Steinocher, Shumate Mechanical, Duluth, Ga.
“We do have a policy in our employee handbook that covers the use of cell phones and, among other things, the policy states that employees are to obey all laws governing the use of cell phone usage while driving. We expect employees to follow the law but, honestly, the only way we would be aware of a violation is if there was an accident. To date we haven’t had any issues, but discipline could be as severe as termination if the situation warrants.”
- Debbie Fischer and Jeff Christner, Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA, San Mateo County, Calif.
“We instituted a ban on cell phone usage in January 2011, which included hands-free usage unless there’s an emergency. All staff that have direct contact with our drivers are aware of the policy; they understand that all communication must occur outside of driving hours. The drivers are informed of the policy during our training as well as on a periodic basis when we issue safety bulletins. Our drivers have been very disciplined so far. They have not received any violations and we are not aware of any transgressions.”
- Martin Codd, RedPeg Marketing, Alexandria, Va.
“AdvantaClean promotes safety in all aspects of our business. … Regardless of individual state laws, we encourage our franchise owners/drivers to use Bluetooth or other hands-free devices when using cell phones. … Given the nature of our business, our franchise owners are on call 24 hours a day for emergency services. Some of their work is scheduled in advance, but a lot of times they may have to leave a prior engagement to run to the next call. Since we operate a 24-hour call center, when they see our number on the caller ID, they know they have to answer it regardless of where they are and what they’re doing. A missed call could easily cost them tens of thousands of dollars.”
- Statement from Advanta-Clean Systems Inc., Huntersville, N.C.