Employers Look the Other Way On Distracted Driving

June 20, 2011

A recent survey appears to confirm that there is growing concern among corporate managers about distracted driving risks and liability. Fifty percent of companies with more than 500 drivers said they have knowledge or evidence of such crashes, according to a poll by the Redwoods Shores, Calif.-based software firm ZoomSafer.

While many companies have adopted written cell phone driving policies, only half (53 percent) make any attempt to enforce compliance, the survey found. Among companies that do enforce compliance, the survey found that 61 percent rely on post-incident disciplinary measures, and only 2 percent currently use technology to measure or manage compliance.

ZoomSafer, which sells software that helps employers enforce employee compliance with cell phone policies, polled 500 business managers in North America.

Other findings:

  • 7.6 percent of companies have faced plaintiff’s litigation resulting from damages alleged to have occurred as a result of employee use of cell phones while driving. For companies with more than 5,000 drivers, the same statistic is 37 percent.
  • 62 percent of companies have implemented a written cell phone use policy. Long-haul trucking and local trucking companies were the most likely to have a written cell phone policy (71 percent and 83 percent respectively), while home and business services companies were least likely (<50 percent).
  • 53 percent of companies with a defined cell phone policy claim to enforce the policy in some manner. Interestingly, 25 percent of respondents who claimed to have a policy declined to answer how such policies were enforced. For companies who did answer the policy enforcement question, 61 percent said they utilized “post-incident” employee discipline to enforce compliance.

“Judging from the survey results, it’s clear that corporate managers are waking up to the fact that they are liable for crashes that occur as a result of employee using cell phones while driving on company business,” said Todd Clement, a Dallas attorney who has represented distracted driving plaintiff claims against commercial fleet operators. “The only fiscally and morally responsible corporate response to this known danger is a policy banning it, coupled with employee education and enforcement through active monitoring and available technology before someone is seriously injured or killed.”

“The fact that so many companies are telling employees to put the phone down while driving is encouraging from a policy perspective. However, from a practical perspective, it’s simply not enough to change behavior,” said Matt Howard, CEO of ZoomSafer. “To truly change behavior and fully protect themselves from liability, companies must actively measure and enforce employee compliance with cell phone use policies.”

From This Issue

Insurance Journal West June 20, 2011
June 20, 2011
Insurance Journal West Magazine

Umbrellas – Personal & Commercial, Construction, Apartment Buildings

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