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As smartphones and tablets become more widespread, multi-tasking behind the wheel has been gaining notice as a “grown-up workplace danger “ carrying significant financial perils for employers.
 
A worker who causes an accident while reading e-mail or texting on the job can expose an employer to millions of dollars in liability losses from bodily injury, property damage and lost productivity.
 
Safety advocates alarmed over the prevalence of employee use of mobile phones on the highway, are pushing companies to adopt distracted-driving policies that ban the use of electronic devices while operating a vehicle.
 
While airlines, railroads, trucking and bus companies may be accustomed to focusing on transportation safety, businesses without large fleets may not have needed to give much thought to the topic until now.  
 
The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends that employers design cell phone policies "to follow best safety practices, reduce significant risks and minimize liability," including bans on using hand-held and hands-free devices while driving for all employees, all company vehicles, all company mobile devices and all work-related communications.
 
Under a legal theory called "vicarious responsibility," an employer may be held liable for negligent employee activity if the worker was acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of a crash.
 
Distracted driving has caught the attention of state and federal policymakers. As of July 2014, 44 states have banned text messaging for all drivers, and talking on a hand-held mobile phone while driving is banned in 12 states.
 
What is distracted driving?
 
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:
 

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Below are some resources to review when developing a distracted driving policy.
 

 http://www.distraction.gov/ 
 https://www.osha.gov/distracted-driving/index.html 
http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/state-laws.html

 

 
 


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