Government of New Brunswick

Policy Statement

The purpose of this policy is to protect the health and safety of GNB employees’ as well as that of the general public by prohibiting the use of hand-operated electronic devices while on duty and while operating:

  • a government vehicle,
  • a rental vehicle,
  • a personal vehicle, or
  • any other motor vehicle

Prohibiting the use of these devices will help minimize distractions that could prevent employees from operating a vehicle in a safe manner.

The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) and the Strategy to Reduce Impaired Driving (STRID) have developed the following definition of driver distraction: “Distracted driving is the diversion of attention from driving, as a result of the driver focusing on a non-driving object, activity, event, or person. This diversion reduces awareness, decision-making, or performance leading to increased risk of driver-error, near-crashes, or crashes.”

It is vital that all employees adhere to this policy to ensure their health and safety at work. It is illegal to use hand-operated electronic devices while driving in the Province of New Brunswick as well as many other jurisdictions in North America. It has been proven that these devices are a major cause of distraction while operating a motor vehicle.




This policy applies to:

  • Management and non-union employees and unionized employees of Parts I, II and III of the Public Service, including ministerial staff.
  • Individuals employed on a personal service contract and individuals employed on a casual/temporary basis.

Exemptions to this policy include: drivers of authorized emergency vehicles.


Hand-Held Devices


For purposes of this policy, hand-operated electronic devices that cannot be used or handled while driving include but are not limited to:

  • Cell phones
  • Smart  phones
  • Blackberries
  • Computers / laptops
  • Pagers
  • Text message devices
  • Global Positioning System (GPS) devices
  • MP3 and DVD players and other portable entertainment devices

Employees must always follow the laws under the Motor Vehicle Act, as follows: 

  • Telephone calls: Phone calls cannot be made or taken when driving unless the telephone is in “hands-free” mode.   If there is an emergency, a hand-held device can be used to call 911.
  • Texting: Texting while driving is not allowed under any circumstances.
  • GPS:  A GPS screen can be in view, but cannot be programmed or handled while driving.
  • MP3 or other entertainment devices: Built-in devices can be used.  A portable device can be listened to while driving, but it cannot be handled or touched.
  • Display screen: A display screen that is built-in can be used.  Portable screens cannot be in the driver’s view.
  • Two-way radio: A two-way radio can only be used while driving if it is for commercial purposes or while driving a commercial vehicle (a bus or vehicle with gross mass of 4,500 kg or more).  Two-way radios can also be used by those involved in an emergency operation or search-and-rescue.

Using Hands-Free Mode


In New Brunswick, the law does allow drivers to use a device in hands-free mode while operating a vehicle.

Hands-free is a mode of use in which the driver is able to keep both hands on the wheel. A device is considered to be operated in hands-free mode if it can be used exclusively by voice commands or by touching the device only once to initiate or accept a telephone call and only once to end it, while all other actions in relation to the call are performed exclusively by voice commands.
Drivers may use a device in hands-free mode while operating a vehicle on duty providing the following guidelines are followed:    

  • Prepare the phone and all equipment before the trip by:
      - setting up hands-free mode,
      - setting up caller ID and/or voice mail, and
      - placing the device in a location where caller ID can be seen without having to take eyes completely off the road
  • Keep hands on the wheel at all times.
  • Let incoming calls go to voicemail if not urgent.
  • If absolutely necessary to take/make a call, advise the person to whom you are speaking that you are driving and keep conversations as brief as possible.
  • Pull off the roadway in a safe location when the conversation becomes technical or stressful in nature and draws attention away from the task of driving safely.

Note:  Employees are encouraged to use common sense when driving and to avoid any dangerous or distracting behaviours including adjusting the radio, grooming and eating.


Approval for Purchase of Hands-Free Devices


Approval for any purchase of hands-free devices rests exclusively with the Deputy Head (Part I), the Superintendent (Part II) and the Chief Executive Officer (Part III).




Violations of this policy will be considered a serious matter and may be subject to disciplinary action.

Violations of the distracted driving laws under the Motor Vehicle Act can result in fines and loss of points from the driver’s licence.


Effective date


The policy is effective as of August 17, 2011.




Motor Vehicle Act, Board of Management Minute 11.0146