Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't Text and Drive!

The press has widely reported the perils of using a cell phone while driving. Certainly, every company whose employees travel by car in the scope of their employment should have a policy that prohibits the use of a cell phone while driving. There have been recent cases where employers have been held liable for injuries suffered by persons involved in accidents caused by the employee's cell phone use.

Some states prohibit cell phone use while driving unless a driver is using a hands free device. Unfortunately, Georgia has yet to regulate cell phone use. Studies have shown that it is a distraction and can cut down on reaction times while driving. Since employers have a duty to keep their employees safe, they should implement policies to prevent needless cell phone related accidents.

Of course, cell phone use goes beyond being on the phone. With the increase use of smart phones, persons are just as likely to be text messaging as they are to be on the phone with someone. Text messaging while driving can be more dangerous than talking on a cell phone because it usually requires both hands to type, as well as looking down at the smart phone (and not at the road). In response to "texting while driving", several states have completely banned the practice by drivers. These states are: Alaska, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington. Unlike many seat belt laws, most of the states that have banned text messaging while driving make it a primary offense, meaning law enforcement can stop a driver for the offense (as opposed to secondary, where the police can pull a driver over for something like a broken tail light and then can add an offense such as texting or not wearing a seat belt).

So, companies should amend their policies and procedures to address "texting while driving", particularly where state law addresses the subject.

1 comment:

Atasha said...

It is really dangerous for people to drive with one hand on the wheel while the other one is holding a phone to the ear. Good thing there are bluetooth headsets people can connect to their phones wirelessly, so they can take a call without having to pick the phone up.