When you consider protecting your business from liability, you need to go beyond the premises of where you and your employees work. If you have workers who drive while they are on the clock, their behavior on the roads can have a direct legal impact on your business.
The National Safety Council estimates that a distracted driving accident happens every 24 seconds. You need to put together a distracted driving policy before one of those happen on your company’s watch.
So how can you protect your company from auto accident liability due to distracted driving?
Start with the most logical policy: no personal electronics allowed while behind the wheel. Multitasking is a work talent most employers treasure, but not when the employee is driving a company vehicle. When you enforce a clear ban on using cell phones while employees are driving, it not only protects your company from liability, but may even have the residual effect of alleviating an employee’s need to answer every work phone call they receive while on the road.
At a minimum, your policy should reiterate and require your employees to follow your state and local laws as they apply to electronic device use while driving. If your business is in Washington State or in Oregon, all handheld devices are illegal to use while driving. In Oregon, drivers under the age of 18 can’t use hands-free devices either. In Washington, the same holds true for those with a learner's permit or intermediate license.
While there are exceptions for hands-free devices, the National Transportation Safety Board recommends that all companies prohibit all cell phone use while driving, including hands-free or Bluetooth devices.
Make Sure Your Policy is Clearly Communicated
Coming up with a clearly written distracted driving policy is great, but don’t just bury it in your company handbook and leave it up to employees to come across. A solid policy is not enough if you don’t make its presence known.
This may just mean mentioning it in new employee orientations. Or better yet, find ways to keep the policy visible, whether it’s on the break room wall or in periodic company-wide correspondence, make sure it’s not forgotten. As long as you make the policy loud and clear, employees won’t feel pressured to perform at all times (or at all cost).
There are plenty of real life cased of businesses being held liable for tens of millions in civil damages. Don’t expose your company to such a huge potential liability. Besides, your company distracted driving policy could just end up saving lives.