Your Company Could Be Liable for Employees' Distracted Driving

You company could be liable for accidents caused by employees talking on a phone or texting while driving

When I worked as an associate editor on some of our print publications I had to conduct interviews with contractors during their work days. I couldn't tell you how many of those interviews were done while the source was driving. And I got nervous every time. I know it's unsafe to talk on the phone while driving. Texting is even worse. I saw a headline recently of a driver who sent 11 text messages while driving. The result was pile-up on the road with 38 injuries and two deaths.

In the December 2011 issue of Concrete Contractor, contributor David Whitlock addresses distracted driving - and your company's liability in the case of an accident.

In order to prohibit distracted driving within your company, Whitlock suggests creating a written driving policy - and making sure all employees are aware of and agrees to comply with the policy.

What's next? Whitlock says the policy has to prohibit - not just warn against - the use of cell phones, texting and other technology while driving or operating machinery. Distracted operating on a jobsite can be just as dangerous as distracted driving on the road.

Whitlock also suggests the policy require all calls or texts be made before the engine is turned on or after it is turned off. And if a call or text absolutely can't wait, require drivers to pull off the road before proceeding.

Writing and communicating the policy is only half the battle. Perhaps most important - and possibly most difficult - is enforcing the policy. Whitlock suggests keeping a paper trailing showing prompt action regarding violations of your policy.

Although you don't want to punish an employee who is working his or her hardest to advance your business or keep a job moving, it's much better to ensure that employee and others in the area can go home safe and come back the next day to continue successfully working for your business.

Read Whitlock's article "Steer Clear of Liability".