If not, you have a problem. For the past several years, more and more states and cities have limited or banned driver use of cell phones. Warns the Web site DrivingLaws.org, “Although employer responsibility isn’t specifically defined in the cell phone legislation, there have been an increasing number of lawsuits relating to employer responsibility regarding mobile cell-phone use [by] employees.”
With motor vehicle accidents the leading cause of work-related injuries, using cell phones behind the wheel ups the ante for litigation in case of death, injury, or other third-party claims. What’s more, drivers injured while phoning on company time will generally be eligible for Workers Compensation.
The first step is to create and implement a cell-phone use policy for employees driving company vehicles. Although this won’t protect you completely from legal responsibility, it demonstrates your forethought and responsibility.
This plan should include guidelines for:
- Training. Provide instruction manuals so employees know the features of their phones.
- Safety. Remind employees not to dial or talk when driving conditions are hazardous, keep conversations short, tell the other person that the employee is calling while driving, and turn off phones whenever they pump gas or use jumper cables.
- Making calls. Discourage cell-phone use behind the wheel and require drivers to pull over and stop when dialing.
- Voice mail/caller ID. Make sure drivers’ phones have these features so they can screen calls behind the wheel.
- Accident/injury reports. Require employees to report any accidents or injuries resulting from cell-phone use while driving.
- Discipline. Punish workers who violate these rules or local or state laws about using cell phones behind the wheel.
We’d be happy to help you develop a comprehensive policy for drivers’ use of cell phones. Just give us a call.