The first phone manipulation is penalized harshly, with nearly half of the maximum point deduction assigned for the first manipulation. After the first phone manipulation, there is a sliding scale of point deductions, with higher penalties for increasing numbers of phone manipulations. A trip with 5+ phone manipulations can score no better than a “Medium Risk” or ★★★ trip.
The penalty for phone calls that are initiated without a phone manipulation (hands-free calls) is less harsh than the penalty for hand-held calls; however, one override rule is in place for hands-free phone calls: If you would have otherwise received a “Very Low Risk” or ★★★★★ rating for a trip but you placed a hands-free phone call, your score will be suppressed to "Low Risk” or ★★★★. This override rule underscores the clear research that shows there is virtually no difference in cognitive distraction between hands-free and hand-held phone use and there is no way to categorize a trip as "Very Low Risk" that involves ANY form of phone use.