EXCLUSIVE: In many states, including California, texting or emailing while driving could get you a fine. If you’re a Disney employee, it may also get you fired. That’s according to a companywide memo that went out yesterday. The so-called “distracted driving,” which involves mostly people using their mobile devices while behind the wheel, is a serious problem that caused 5,474 deaths last year. But a private company enforcing the ban on the use of such devices is a little odd even for Disney, considered to be the most buttoned-down and regulated entertainment conglom. According to the memo, Disney “is enhancing its vehicle safety policy effective immediately.” That includes prohibiting Disney employees from sending or reading texts or emails while driving company cars or their private cars while performing duties related to their Disney jobs. “Failure to comply will lead to disciplinary actions up to and including termination,” the memo said. While the intention is noble, the bureaucratic way it was handled has raised eyebrows, evoked Big Brother references and has mostly puzzled Disney employees as to how exactly would Disney enforce its new rules. Nevertheless, the new policy may affect business as most people working in the entertainment industry in LA do a lot of work on their blackberrys while driving. With its ban, Disney joins the Obama administration which has prohibited federal employees from texting while driving on government business and banned commercial truck and bus drivers from texting behind the wheel. Thirty states and the District of Columbia prohibit drivers from texting behind the wheel; at least eight states have passed laws barring drivers from using hand-held cell phones.
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