As we approach the end of the year, many of us are eagerly anticipating some well-deserved time off. But amidst the rush to wrap up work tasks before our vacations, there’s an important concern that demands attention: distracted driving.

In an era where maintaining constant connectivity holds significant importance, it’s imperative to acknowledge the potential hazards and outcomes linked to distracted driving. This concern becomes even more urgent for employers, given the potential legal implications stemming from their employees participating in distracted driving while working.

When Could an Employer Be Held Liable for Distracted Driving?

While it might seem straightforward that companies are liable for their employees’ actions when driving company vehicles, the scope of liability is broader than you might think. Here are a few scenarios where an employer’s responsibility might come into play:

  1. Company Cars: If your employees use company cars, it’s important to realize that liability extends beyond their working hours. Should an employee cause an accident due to distracted driving, even during their off-duty time, the company could be held accountable.
  2. Work-Related Distractions: Even if an employee is using their personal vehicle, engaging in work-related activities such as answering calls or emails could lead to accidents. If distraction leads to a collision, the employer might be implicated.
  3. Company Cell Phones: Although rare, instances where employees use company cell phones for personal calls can also pose liability risks for employers. The circumstances might be unique, but it’s important to recognize the potential for consequences.

The Financial and Human Costs

Distracted driving incidents come with a hefty price tag, both financially and in terms of human well-being. Research indicates that transportation-related accidents linked to work responsibilities can cost companies around $24,500 per crash in terms of property damage alone. When injuries are involved, the expenses escalate, with personal injuries to employees and third parties potentially reaching the range of $150,000. Tragically, fatalities can lead to costs running into the millions. These statistics underscore the importance of taking proactive measures to prevent such incidents.

Taking Action to Prevent Distracted Driving Liability

The most effective approach to avoiding liability for distracted driving accidents is prevention. Employers must take the lead in cultivating a safe driving culture and enforcing policies that safeguard both their employees and the company’s interests.

  1. Education and Training: Companies that provide their employees with vehicles should prioritize regular training on the dangers of distracted driving. By instilling awareness and safe practices, employers can reduce the likelihood of accidents caused by inattention.
  2. Comprehensive Policies: Creating well-defined policies is essential. These policies should encompass state laws that may regulate phone use while driving. For instance, if your state requires hands-free cell phone use, ensure that your policy aligns with this requirement. Provide the necessary equipment for hands-free communication or consider prohibiting cell phone use altogether if it proves safer.
  3. Extend Policies Beyond Company Vehicles: It’s important to recognize that even when employees aren’t operating company vehicles, their actions can still impact the company’s liability. Establish policies that restrict work-related calls and emails while driving, regardless of the vehicle being used.

Partnering for Safety

At LBMC Employment Partners, we specialize in helping companies create comprehensive driving and cell phone policies that prioritize safety and mitigate liability risks. By collaborating with us, your company can foster a culture of responsible driving and protect its employees and assets from potential harm. If you’re interested in learning more about how LBMC EP can assist your business in managing the risks associated with distracted driving, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.

Remember, safeguarding lives and minimizing liability requires a collective effort. By taking proactive steps, we can ensure safer roads and a more secure future for everyone.

To learn more about how LBMC EP can help your business deal with distracted drivers, contact us today.