Employers Must Eliminate this Dangerous Employee Activity
Mobile phones have been a positive boom to businesses, especially in sales, delivery, and taxi industries – a wide swath of American businesses. An employer can keep track of where its workers are and send them to the next location at the click of a button. Employees can update customers on arrival times or conduct business during the “downtime” of driving.
However, being accessible even while behind the wheel is never part of a healthy business plan. The practice is not only very dangerous but costly to the business.
The National Safety Council estimates that Texas employers spend $3.52 billion every year as a result of traffic accident injuries. Employers are being held liable for six, seven and eight-figure verdicts and settlements, sometimes for employees who cause wrecks while off duty or conducting personal business.
Companies: Is Your Cell Phone Policy Safe?
All employers should implement a comprehensive cell phone policy and strictly enforce it. Your cell phone policy should be in writing and cover mobile phone use, texting and any other uses of electronic devices while driving.
Your policy should follow the laws of Texas and any municipality in which an employee may be driving. Although, frustratingly, Texas does not have an anti-texting law, you should consider imposing your own anti-texting rules on your employees. After all, if your employee runs into someone while texting, your company could face liability in civil court, even if the worker did not break the law.
To protect the lives of your employees and the public and to minimize your risk of liability, your cell phone policy should cover:
- Use of hands-free as well as handheld devices
- All types of employees, such as executives, marketing representatives and delivery staff
- All company vehicles, including tractor-trailers delivery trucks and cars
- Company-supplied devices, regardless of whether the employee is on or off duty
- Work-related communications, even while the employee is in a personal automobile or using a personal mobile phone
The NSC offers a free cell phone policy assessment tool that provides feedback on your current provisions and recommendations for closing safety gaps.
Texas Employer Traffic Safety Program
Distracted driving caused more than 100,000 auto accidents in Texas in 2014, resulting in 468 fatalities and 3,214 severe injuries. The Texas Employer Traffic Safety Program helps employers create a safe workplace by preventing distracted driving accidents.
As an employer, you have the opportunity to make a difference by banning cell phone use while behind the wheel, for example asking employees to:
- Turn off wireless devices before turning on the ignition
- Inform their clients and coworkers that they will return calls only when they are not driving
- Park their car in a safe location to make a call