Companies Implementing On-The-Job Cell Phone Policies

Cell phones are dangerous to drivers, and they are illegal in Kentucky. There were 11 people killed in a crash three years ago (March 26, 2010) near Munfordville, Kentucky. A semi-truck, owned by the motor carrier Hester, Inc., was traveling southbound on I-65. Without notice, it then overrode a four-cable guardrail barrier and struck a 15-passenger van. What caused this accident? The answer is distracting driving. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the truck driver failed to control his vehicle because he was distracted by his cell phone. 

Related: The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Cell phone distractions
Cell phone distracted driving has become an ongoing national epidemic. The National Safety Council revealed in its latest statistics that about 25% of all accidents are caused by cell phones. The growing epidemic of cell phone use while driving takes more American lives than any other form of injury. This is becoming the number one cause of work-related fatalities. On-the-job crashes affect not only the employee and the victims, but the employer, too.

Let the superior answer
Under the legal doctrine “respondeat superior,” an employer is liable and legally responsible for the cost of the accident involving its employees. However, if the accident took place when the employee was off-duty, not within the scope of employment or it was done out of personal will, the employer might not be held liable. On-the-job crashes are a heavy burden to employers, incurring costs of more than $24,500 per property damage crash and $150,000 per injury crash. If there have been deaths, costs can go up to millions of dollars. This is the reason why many companies are now implementing comprehensive cell phone policies, and these include the prohibition from talking and texting while driving on the job.

Statistics

  • Based on an online survey in 2009, 50% of the 13,742 National Safety Council (NSC) member companies had either handheld or full cell phone bans.
  • 1 out of 5 Fortune 500 companies that responded to an NSC survey has acknowledged the risk related to cell phone use while driving.
  • Organizations with cell phone ban range in size from 100 to 70,000 employees.
  • 50% of the organizations with cell phone ban has implemented their policies since 2008.

Related: "No-Phone Zone" In Kentucky Is Taking Off

The law
Commercial drivers are banned from using handheld cell phones. The texting ban which took effect on January 3, 2012 prohibited Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers from texting while operating in interstate commerce. CMV, as defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is a motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used in commerce to transport passengers or property. Drivers violating the law would be sanctioned with civil penalties and disqualification from operating CMV’s interstate commerce. An exception to the rule is when drivers need to communicate with law enforcement official or other emergency cases. Prohibiting the use of cell phone while driving is an effective way to reduce the risks of road accidents. Cell phone policies are implemented not to absolve employers from liability but, instead, to protect their employees, motorists, passengers and to make the roads safer.

As a Kentucky Car accident attorney, I've always supported the texting while driving ban. I am in favor of anything legislative that will keep the roads safer and save lives. If you've been injured in an accident, the right attorney can help you know what your legal options are for your case.

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