Distracted Driving on the Company's Dime

It’s been statistically proven talking on the phone while driving makes paying attention to what’s going on with the cars around you more difficult. Employers and employees forget that working from the road doesn’t make you any less susceptible to that danger. Some employers, though, are beginning to understand that an employee-caused car accident can be a financial issue for the company. Both Workers’ Compensation insurance and regular liability insurance can come into play after an employee is involved in a car wreck.

For that reason alone, it seems all corporations would have a cell phone policy on the books. Yet, Colorado employers still issue a cell phone to employees, tell them to hit the road and expect them to answer the phone at any and all times.

It’s time to rethink that practice and Drive Safely Work Week 2010 is here to help employers do just that. The annual campaign by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) aims to get employers in Colorado and everywhere to take a bigger part in employee safety while driving. This year they’re encouraging cell phone safety at work.

Job related cell phone issues aren’t new. At last year’s Distracted Driving Summit, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wanted employers to consider enforcing the rules of the road for their employees. “If you know your staff has left work for the day, don’t expect them to instantly return a phone call or return a text message when they’re driving home,” LaHood said. “Similarly, don’t call people if you know they’re on the road … unless you also know they’ll let you leave a message instead of picking up.”

Even President Obama banned cell phone use while driving for all federal employees and contractors as of October 2009. Now, one year later, Secretary LaHood says cell phone policies are in place at 1,600 companies. In addition, NETS reports more than 4,000 requests have been made, thus far, for the 2010 safety campaign materials.

There’s still plenty to be done in the world of corporate traffic safety. You or your company can get more information about creating a cell phone safety policy by visiting NETS at www.trafficsafety.org. There you can find employee education tips, facts on car accidents caused by distracted driving, and information promoting company cell phone policies that touches on safety and monetary perspectives.