At any given moment of the day, about 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or devices while driving in the United States. And it’s become an epidemic that’s bad for our health.
More than 3,100 people were killed and about 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2019 (the most recent year for which statistics were available).
For years, motor vehicle crashes have been consistently ranked as one of the leading—if not the leading—cause of work-related fatality. Additionally, in 2019, car crashes cost employers a whopping $72.2 billion -- up from $47.4 billion in 2013.
And now, if a work-related car crash involves cell phone use, employers could be held legally responsible too. For instance, in one case an off-duty police officer—driving a police cruiser—was texting moments before a fatal crash. His employer was held liable for $4 million—and this is just one of a slew of examples in which a jury held an employer liable for the distracted driving of an employee.
So what can an employer do to help workers stay safe behind the wheel—and to protect the future of the company?
A safe driving policy is a great place to start. In the event of a car crash that leads to legal proceedings, an employer that can show the existence of a corporate safe driving policy, including specifics banning cell phone use while driving, could have a much more defensible position.
But just having a policy isn’t enough. Employers need to make sure that workers are educated about the policy, that compliance is monitored, and that the policy is enforced.
It’s easy for the line between work and private line to become blurred. For instance, workers may be off the clock and in their own vehicles, but using a company-owned phone—or even a personal phone for which the employer reimburses them. Similarly, the employee could be off the clock, using a personal phone, but driving a corporate vehicle.
Be sure your safe driving policy prohibits employees from cell phone use while driving any vehicle during work hours or for work-related purposes.
Not sure where to start? Download a free safe driving kit here.
For more than 25 years, Beall Financial and Insurance Services, Inc., has been helping corporations and individuals protect their most important assets. The agency’s client base covers a spectrum of businesses that require specialized insurance packages and knowledge. With offices in California and Indiana, Beall Financial and Insurance Services serves clients nationwide.