Putting employees on the road has always been risky business. Regardless of whether vehicles are personally owned by employees or part of a company-owned fleet, businesses may be held liable for losses arising out of the use of vehicles for business purposes. Though this risk isn’t new, the use of mobile devices while driving has made it riskier.
Research shows that the use of mobile devices, particularly cell phones and tablets, while driving significantly increases the chances of being involved in an accident.
- The odds of being involved in a safety-critical event are 23.2 times greater for drivers who text message than for those who do not.
- Texting drivers brake 0.2 seconds slower than those who are not texting.
- Drivers reading a text message take their eyes of the road for 11 seconds.
- Drivers sending a text message take their eyes of the road for 20 seconds.
Unfortunately, this kind of ‘distracted driving’ has become common. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 69% of drivers between 18 and 64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the last 30 days.
- 31% of drivers between 18 and 64 reported that they had read or sent text or email messages while driving at least once within the last 30 days.
This research confirms that steps must be taken to reduce the risk. In addition to taking traditional measures, like training drivers and checking motor vehicle records, workplace policies must be updated to specifically include the use of mobile devices while operating any vehicle for business purposes. For example, depending on organization-specific requirements, policies may be updated to include one or more of the following provisions:
- Employees may only use a mobile device (cell phone, tablet, etc.) when it is safe to do so.
- Employees must use a hands-free system. Hand-held devices may not be used.
- Employees must be able to initiate, answer or terminate a call by touching a single button. The use of voice-activated features is recommended.
- Cell phones must be easily accessible and kept in close proximity so that they can be reached quickly while remaining in the proper seated position and restrained by the seat belt.
- Employees may not take notes or look away from the road while using their hands-free system.
- Employees may not engage in texting while driving, including when the vehicle is temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays. Texting means entering or reading text or images from any electronic device (cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc.). As used in this policy, texting includes, but is not limited to, short message service (SMS), emailing, instant messaging, any command or request to access the Internet, pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication, taking photographs, or engaging in any other form of data entry, access, retrieval or transmission.
All employees must follow rules governing the use of mobile devices while driving for business purposes. Gone are the days when only a select few had access to mobile devices. Moreover, every employee, even those who do not typically run business errands in their car, should acknowledge (preferably in writing) that they understand the rules and that violations may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
In addition to reducing the risks created by employees driving vehicles for business purposes, a sound risk management approach can also reduce overall insurance costs. If you would like to learn more about managing these risks, or about the various insurance options that may be available, please contact us.
If you would like to subscribe to our newsletters please click here.