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DOT urging employers to help prevent distracted driving

While the internet has certainly changed how many businesses are able to reach and communicate with customers, it hasn't changed their reliance on transportation. In fact, these two elements now enjoy something of a symbiotic relationship, as traveling employees must be in constant contact with customers, employers and the Web in order to keep things running smoothly.

In order to do this, however, these employees -- from executives to plumbers -- depend largely upon their smartphones. However, this dependence should be something of a concern to employers, particularly if it is causing employees to use their smartphones while behind the wheel on company business. The reason? A serious accident could potentially subject them to major liability and increased work comp defense costs.

In recognition of this exact danger, the Department of Transportation has released a publication entitled "A Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving," which contains a section addressing what employers can do prevent their employees from distracted driving.

While some employers may be tempted to dismiss discussions on distracted driving as hype, consider the following grim statistics:

  • In 2009 alone, 5,400 people died in car crashes caused by distracted driving while another 500,000 suffered serious injuries
  • Those drivers who use a smartphone or handheld device while driving are four times more likely to be involved in a crash that causes them serious injuries
  • Those drivers who text behind the wheel have a crash risk that is 23 times higher than a non-distracted driver

Fortunately, the DOT publication offers a few simple solutions for employers looking to eliminate the risk of serious work injuries posed by distracted driving:

  • Eliminate any incentive/financial programs that passively encourage workers to use smartphones while driving
  • Establish policies and procedures outlining when, where and under what conditions use of a smartphone is permitted
  • Make work tasks less reliant upon use of a smartphone (if possible)
  • Provide employees with safety training on distracted driving

Stay tuned for more our workers' compensation defense blog ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Source:

Risk & Insurance, "Distracted driving 'epidemic' addressed in new initiative," July 23, 2012

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