Cell phones first became a popular business tool back in the 1980s when
they were tethered to vehicles but allowed businesspeople to stay connected
to their offices at nearly any time. Because they were so rare and reserved
strictly for those with the ability to afford both the device and the
phone, they weren’t much of an issue. Today, nearly everyone has
a cell phone, and research has shown that using cell phones while driving
is a huge contributor to distracted driving accidents.
However, because businesses are more mobile and reactive than ever, some
employers require workers to keep their phones with them at all times
for communication. In some cases, the phone is used strictly for calls,
but in others it might also be used as a navigation device or to receive
instructions or service calls that should be attended to. Drivers for
popular rideshare services Uber and Lyft rely on their phones for everything
from connecting with passengers to navigating. All of this contributes
to a much larger percentage of drivers who are distracted in some way,
and contributed to distracted driving’s rapid rise up the
car accident causes list.
Holding Employers Responsible
Employers who require and expect their workers to use a cell phone in some
way while driving must recognize the immense risk they are exposing their
workers and their business to, however, it’s remarkable how many
seem perfectly complacent with the practice. Some studies have estimated
that using a cell phone while driving can make you four times more likely
to be involved in an accident, and the number goes even higher when that
use involves some form of messaging, like sending or reading text messages
What’s worse, when it comes to determining the negligence involved
in a car accident, employers could be held liable if they require or encourage
their employees to use cell phones while driving. This essentially requires
employees to distract themselves, which tremendously increases their risk
of an accident. As a result, an Albuquerque workers’ compensation
attorney will often use the discovery process to find out that an employee
was required to use their cell phone, and then attempt to demonstrate
that this cell phone use is what caused the accident and injuries to an
employee, which means an employer could be held liable for the injury claim.
Employers can prevent this by instead creating and enforcing a culture
that bans the use of cell phones while driving. A 2009 study of 469 National
Safety Council members who had implemented total cell phone bans while
driving found that only one percent of these companies had experienced
a drop in productivity. In fact, a 2010 study of Fortune 500 companies
found that nearly 20 percent of companies who banned cell phone use believed
increased as a result.
This could also mean employers save a fair amount of money on their expenses
as well. Injuries are already a tremendous financial burden, but reducing
your potential risks by creating and strictly enforcing a no cell phones
while driving policy, which could in turn save you money by reducing claims
against you, making workers’ compensation insurance cheaper, and more.
In honor of National Safety Month, be sure to inform and educate workers
on the dangers of cell phone use while driving, and always make sure to
strictly enforce the highest standards of safety while they are out on
the roads, no matter what purpose it might be for.
If you have been injured in a car accident while on the job as a result
of mandatory cell phone use, you should speak with a legal representative
to learn more about your rights and options. Call Michael J. Doyle, Attorney
At Law today at 505-219-2176 to request a
free consultation and review your case!