Distracted Driving; It's Not Just a Teen Problem

What used to be thought of as a problem solely with teen drivers, using a cell phone while driving, has grown into epidemic across all age groups. As many as 50% of adults admit to using their phone while driving. For this reason, employers are finding themselves involved in more and more lawsuits for injuries their employees' caused while operating phones while driving. Thus, employers have moved to the forefront in adopting policies prohibiting employees from using cell phones while driving on the job.

Juries have rendered numerous multi-million dollar verdicts against employers whose employees were at fault in accidents because of cell phone use. Employers have long been held accountable for the negligent actions of their employees, and holding them liable for mobile phone-related accidents is simply an extension of that fact. Even so, employers can be on the hook under some surprising circumstances.

That is so, even when an employer had a cell phone policy in place and the driver was on a personal errand but in a company-supplied car; when an employee was making personal calls on a company supplied phone; and even when employees were using personal phones and driving personal cars when the distraction itself was business-related, such as a call coming to the driver from the office.

Even if an employer bans cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle, it can still be on the hook if the company did not actively enforce the policy. Companies are now turning to ways to monitor their employees' use of cell phones. Some provide an employer with technology that ensures compliance with its policy. When the vehicle is moving faster than a certain speed, the device will operate only in a way that is consistent with the employer's policy. Let's hope that other businesses will follow this example to make our roadways safer.

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