Today in our Friday is for Friends feature I welcome back Mike Dobert, President of HR in Alignment. Here is a REAL liability that most business owners are not thinking about! Read and protect yourself!
According to a recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) survey of 6000 drivers, 20% of drivers overall and more than half of all drivers between 21 and 24 reported sending text messages or emails while in the driver’s seat.
These numbers are reflected in annual studies in which the Agency visually monitors intersections to count drivers using cell phones and other devices. For most of us, we may see a greater frequency in the use of cell phones and other portable devices in our commute each day, or perhaps in our own vehicles.
The NTSB recently proposed a ban on all drivers use of cell phone and other portable devices, except in emergencies. The recommendation was unanimously agreed to by a five-member board and applies to both hands-free and hand-held devices.
As published, “The Board made the recommendation in connection with a deadly highway pileup in Missouri last year. The board said the initial collision in the accident near Gray Summit, Mo., was caused by the inattention of a 19 year-old-pickup driver who sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes immediately before the crash.
Investigators are seeing texting, cell phone calls and other distracting behavior by operators in accidents across all modes of transportation with increasing frequency. It has become routine for investigators to immediately request the preservation of cell phone and texting records when they launch an investigation.”
Companies and their owners/managers need to be concerned and proactive in implementing a written policy regarding the use of cell phones and other portable devices while driving, whether in a service vehicle, personal vehicle while conducting company business, or any other equipment which requires the operator’s full attention.
What happens when an employee causes an accident while distracted from driving by taking a call from their manager, or responding to a personal text while driving on Company business; can the Company be liable for the accident? The answer is “Yes”.
While the NTSB doesn’t have the power to impose restrictions, it’s recommendations carry significant weight with federal regulators and congressional and state lawmakers The NTSB’s proposal is a good reminder companies should have a policy defining employee’s use of cell phone and other portable devices while driving/conducting company business while driving. Having a consistently enforced written policy addressing their use can help limit liability in the event of a lawsuit, and in fact, companies could be found negligent if they fail to adopt a policy for the safe use of cell phones and similar devices while driving.
For more information on compliance with Employment Labor Laws and all your HR needs including policy development, contact Mike Dobert, S.P.H.R. at HR in Alignment, LLC. @ 281.494.2985 or email@example.com You may also visit us at www.hrinalignment.com
This article is for informational purposes and not intended as legal advice
Copyright © 2012 by Michael J. Dobert and HR in Alignment, LLC Used by permission.