Photo via Flickr/Bruce Stokes.

Photo via Flickr/Bruce Stokes.

New York City has banned the use of hands-free phone devices by city fleet drivers, except for emergency responders.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) concluded that the use of hands-free devices can lead to equally dangerous levels of distraction as non-hands free devices, according to a city release. The conclusion came as part of a city review of driver practices through its Vision Zero plan for ending traffic deaths and injuries, as well as academic research.

New York state law prohibits vehicle operation while using a cell phone or texting, but offers an exemption for the use of hands-free devices, mirroring New York state law.

“The new rule will be a focus of mandatory defensive driving and safety training going forward for all city fleet operators. We will also be rolling out a poster campaign focusing on this issue at city facilities, parking lots, and garages,” Keith Kerman, chief fleet officer, wrote in the city’s fleet newsletter.

In addition to this new rule, the fleet reported it has now installed truck side guards on 370 city trucks, with 650 installs to be completed by the end of FY-17, making it the largest rollout of this technology in the U.S. so far.