Companies Seeing Liability for Employees’ Distracted Driving

As recent blog posts have shown, our Atlanta auto accident attorneys know that increasing national attention is being focused on the serious problem of distracted drivers on our roads. The use of cell phones and texting is particularly a problem for America’s younger drivers, but adults are guilty of this risky behavior behind the wheel as well. According to a Washington Post article, America’s companies are starting to figure out that this can mean liability for them when their employees start chatting and texting behind the wheel while on the job.

The Problem:
Many Fortune 500 companies are banning any cell phone use while driving on the job, including UPS, DuPont, Chevron, Shell, and Time Warner. There have been concerns about productivity and customers not being able to reach drivers about things like deliveries. However, one company spokesperson said that while that was a concern, they do not make safety decisions based on productivity. The December recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board on a total ban was a tipping point for many of these companies in deciding to implement this.

It is hard to know how many cell phone-use cases have resulted in litigation for the employer companies, because most of these situations settle out of court. But the technology is advancing to a point where the exact time of impact and whether the driver was on the phone at that exact moment are easily determinable. The current data can track a phone’s location and if the phone suddenly stops, that is the point of impact and it can be proved whether the driver was on the phone or not. In the future it will be even easier for crash investigators, as new vehicles have on board computers to store data.

Employer Liability:
Companies are right to worry about this litigation problem. In many different states, there have been multi-million dollar judgments against companies. Even though “everyone does it” is something of a true statement, given the prevalence of even adult Americans to be distracted by cell phones while driving, juries have a tendency to crack down on this type of behavior.

David Treater, the Transportation Director at the National Safety Council, says that increased corporate liability for this kind of distracted driving is linked to research showing that drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a crash if using a cell phone.

“If an employer knew a behavior in some other aspect of the business put employees at four-times-greater risk of injury, would they still expect or even encourage that behavior?” he said. “It’s a huge trend. It’s a real liability for companies, a real risk.”

Legal Help:
If someone in your family has been involved in an vehicle accident due to the negligent driving of another, the Georgia accident attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter can help you determine if you have a case and what to do if the negligent driver was on the job at the time of the accident. Please call us at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Another Fatal Georgia Car Accident Caused By Distracted Driving

Risky Teen Driving

(Photo courtesy of Johan Larsson)