Tough rules are being adopted by a growing number of companies dissatisfied with provincial laws that still allow drivers to use hands-free cellphones.

Employees driving a company vehicle from Steels Industrial Products, for example, can be fired if they are caught using any kind of cellphone or texting device — period.

Steels president Jim Sidwell laid down the law to his 180 workers in British Columbia and Alberta a few weeks ago.

“There is enough evidence out there that ties driving safety directly to the use of cellphones,” Sidwell said from Vancouver.

“There was no other answer than to move forward with this policy. It was just the right thing to do.”

Studies show that drivers who talk on cellphones are six times more likely to be involved in dangerous collisions. And they are 23 times more likely to have a crash if they’re texting and driving, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. People who chat on cellphones or text are 10 times more likely to run a stop sign.

Similar policies to those at Sidwell are in force at large companies such as Finning Canada, Husky Energy, Halliburton, ConocoPhilipps and smaller firms such as Hole’s Greenhouses.

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