Fleet Safety DRIVING IN A DIGITAL WORLD
ccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration , distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving . This includes any activity which reduces the focus required to operate a vehicle . Today , the most common form of distraction is the use of mobile devices .
As an employer , you should know that any employee driving a company-owned vehicle or his or her own personal vehicle for business reasons could be held liable if the employee is involved in an accident while using a mobile device . Most states have not defined the employer ’ s responsibility related to accidents involving mobile cell phone use . This has led to increased litigation against companies who more often than not have deeper pockets than the employee who may have caused a distracted driving accident .
They are called automobile accidents — unfortunate incidents which happen unexpectedly and unintentionally , typically resulting in damage or injury . However , if an employee is using a mobile cell phone when an accident occurs , plaintiffs will argue that one could reasonably have
expected an accident — or more accurately , an automobile crash — would occur .
Implementing a company policy against the use of mobile cell phones is the first step toward reducing the possibility of distracted-driving automobile crashes . Such policies show that an employer had the foresight and understood the significant dangers associated with mobile device use in the vehicle .
When developing your driver safety program , it is recommended that the use of any mobile device be strictly prohibited . Use of mobile devices should only be used when the vehicle is safely pulled over and parked . Include language in the policy advising drivers that any violation of your policy would be grounds for disciplinary action or even possible termination .
The availability of built-in , hands-free technology in vehicles has nearly become standard equipment nowadays . And even if a vehicle doesn ’ t have hands-free capability , there is a wide array of aftermarket accessories to make it so . From earpieces to integrated microphone systems , for just a few dollars , any cell phone can easily become a hands-free device .
But just because a mobile device can be used hands-free does not mean its use isn ’ t a distraction . A point could even be made that hands-free devices may actually provide a false sense of security to the driver .
If your company allows the use of handsfree devices , you can add language to the end of your overall mobile device policy . Provide for very strict usage rules and include language stating the use of handsfree devices does not eliminate the risk of automobile crashes due to talking on a cell phone .
EDUCATE AND TRAIN EMPLOYEES
One of the most impactful ways to reduce the risk of distracted driving accidents is to have a conversation on the topic . Make distracted driving awareness a part of your regular safety meetings . For employers who allow hands-free device use , consider hiring a safety consultant to train each employee on how to properly use the equipment .
If being distracted reduces the driver ’ s awareness on the road , raising awareness on the dangers of distracted driving may be just the solution to avoid the next automobile crash . +
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