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Distracted Driving Policy

The Hillsborough Police Department recognizes the inherent danger that exists when employees operate vehicles while distracted. The use of cellular phones, computers, or other electronic devices while operating a vehicle can cause unnecessary distractions, presents a negative image to the public, can interfere with the safe operation of a vehicle and can impede response to calls for service.

It is the policy of the Hillsborough Police Department to establish practices that reduce or eliminate distractions while employees are operating town-owned vehicles in motion.

A.   DEFINITIONS

Distracted Driving - any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Employees who use a cell phone while driving expose themselves and others to a significant safety risk. Studies on cellular phone related vehicular accidents reveal that those individuals using cell phones while driving were significantly more likely to have an accident than those not using cell phones.

Electronic Wireless Communication Devices – any device that can be used to send or receive information and/or communicate wirelessly. This includes, but is not limited to, cellular phones, smart phones, laptops, GPS devices or tablets, regardless of whether they are provided by the Town or personally owned.

B.   GENERAL GUIDELINES

  1. Employees are strongly encouraged, even when not strictly prohibited below, to bring any vehicle they are operating to a complete stop any time they need utilize electronic wireless communication devices or engage in any activity that may distract their driving.
  2. Employees may utilize electronic wireless communication devices any time a vehicle they are operating is stopped or when they are a passenger in a vehicle.
  3. Supervisors and employees shall refrain from communicating any critical information (information they expect to be read or responded to in less than 30 minutes) by text message or email to any employee who may be operating a vehicle. Police radios shall be used for communicating critical information.
  4. Employees will not be penalized for reasonable delays in reading and/or responding to a text or email, or in answering or returning phone calls that they receive while operating a vehicle.

C.   PROHIBITIONS WHILE OPERATING A VEHICLE

  1. While operating a vehicle (Town or personally owned) in-motion for Town business or operating a Town vehicle in-motion any time, whether on- or off-duty, employees:
    1. Shall not engage in writing, sending, searching, replying, utilizing an application (“app”) or reading any text based communication on electronic wireless communication devices.
    2. Shall not utilize a cellular phone in any mode other than “hands free” nor for any purpose that is not strictly work related.
    3. Shall not view, search or otherwise try to manage body-worn or in-car videos.
    4. Shall not eat, read printed material, perform personal grooming, smoke or engage in any other activity that significantly limits the use of one or both hands and is not directly work-related and/or cannot be avoided until their vehicle comes to a complete stop.
  2. Employees shall not alter, change or disengage any device designed to reduce distractions that is installed in a town vehicle.

D.   EXCEPTIONS

  1. Operation and use of portable and vehicle-mounted radios and RADAR units are exempt from these provisions.
  2. The activation and deactivation of in-car and body worn video cameras is exempt from these provisions.
  3. Employees may use a Mobile Data Computer while in motion when one-button or one-touch responses are needed to indicate an officer is en route, arriving on scene or to activate an emergency button.
  4. The use of a wireless communication device in a manner that is inconsistent with the prohibitions described in Section C is only permitted when significant, articulable exigent or emergency circumstances exist and no reasonable alternative is available.
  5. Employees may not utilize any electronic wireless communication devices (other than a police radio and activating in-car or body-worn cameras) when operating a vehicle with lights and/or siren activated or while operating outside of the normally expected rules of the road.
 

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