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Encourage Your Employees to Avoid Their Cellphones While Driving
According to a Nationwide Insurance poll, a staggering 81 percent of cellphone owners admit to talking on their cell phones while driving. While employers may initially see the benefits of allowing employees to use cell phones for work-related matters during travel, it's crucial to recognize the significant liability risks involved. The National Safety Council's survey reveals that companies with cellphone driving policies witnessed a remarkable 70 percent maintaining productivity levels, with over 20 percent reporting a decrease in employee vehicle accidents.
The Cognitive Impact
Research from Johns Hopkins University has shown that engaging in cellphone conversations, even with hands-free devices, leads to decreased activity in the visual part of the brain. Furthermore, the University of Utah's findings suggest that cellphone use impairs drivers as much as alcohol does. These revelations underscore the gravity of the issue and the need for employers to take proactive measures.
To illustrate the potential consequences, let's examine real-life cases. In Georgia, an employee making a business call while driving caused a serious injury to another driver. Subsequently, the employee's company was held liable, resulting in a $5 million payout in damages. In a separate incident, an employee talking to a client on the phone struck and killed a child, leading to a $2 million settlement for the victim's family. These cases underscore the legal and financial implications of employee cellphone use while driving.
Mitigating Employer Liability
While complete immunity from liability is elusive, employers can take several steps to mitigate risks:
Develop a Comprehensive Policy: Craft a robust employee cellphone use policy that clearly outlines the limitations of cellphone use while driving.
Employee Training: Educate employees about the dangers of cellphone use on the road through training programs.
Enforce Policies: Ensure that employees acknowledge the policy through written agreements and consistently enforce its guidelines.
Safe Alternatives: Encourage safer alternatives, such as informing clients of driving schedules to avoid calls during travel, pulling over for important calls, or having a passenger manage cellphone usage.
Prioritize Safety: Emphasize that while productivity is essential, the safety of employees and others on the road takes precedence over any business concerns.
Consistent Enforcement: Regularly review and uphold the policy, taking appropriate action against employees who violate it.
Employers must stay informed about state laws regarding cellphone use while driving, as many states have implemented bans on hand-held cell phones. While these laws may not directly address employer liability, they can increase exposure to cellphone-related accidents. Incorporate the current state law into your policy and require employees to review and re-sign it whenever changes occur. For the latest information on state requirements, visit the Governor's Highway Safety Association website.
Reviewing Insurance Policies
In addition to updating your cellphone policy and training programs, it's prudent for employers to review their insurance policies. Assess your company's risk related to employee cellphone use and consider seeking assistance in policy development from your representative at TPG Insurance Services.
In conclusion, the proliferation of cellphone use while driving poses significant challenges for employers in terms of liability and safety. By implementing comprehensive policies, providing training, and staying abreast of state regulations, employers can take proactive steps to protect their businesses and promote road safety.
While encouraging helps keep wondering eyes on the road, encouraging can only take you so far. So, call a TPG Insurance Specialist for more information on your Commercial Auto Policy, dial 909.466.7876 today!
Also, are Frequency, Severity and Your Commercial Auto Insurance Premium connected? Find out in our blogs/resources webpage, along with some more interesting topics like the Solar Collector Burn Hazards associated with installation.