Cell phones and navigation devices allow drivers to stay connected and find their destinations, making them indispensable – especially for salespeople, repair personnel, and other employees who drive on the job.
However, using cell phones behind the wheel also creates liabilities – and the toll can be heavy. “Distracted driving” is the fourth most serious vehicle safety issue, according to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. With motor vehicle accidents the leading cause of work-related injuries, the use of cell phones and other high-tech devices by employees driving on the job leaves your business wide open to workers compensation exposures, lawsuits for deaths and injuries, and other third-party claims.
To lessen liability and help reduce accidents, it makes sense to adopt a policy on driver use of cell phones that includes these guidelines:
- Use a headset while driving or pull over to use a hand-held cell phone.
- Keep the phone where it’s easy to see and easy to reach.
- Plan any calls you’ll need to make before you begin to drive; enter numbers into your speed-dialing feature.
- Do manual dialing only when the vehicle is stopped.
- If possible, make your calls when stopped at a stop sign, red light, or when you are otherwise stationary.
- If possible, ask a passenger to make the call or at least dial the number for you.
- Never take notes or look up phone numbers while driving.
- Suspend a conversation during hazardous circumstances — for example, in heavy traffic, when maneuvering around a hazard, or in severe weather conditions.
- While talking, keep your head up and your eyes on the road and check the side and rearview mirrors. frequently.
- Let voice mail pick up your calls when it’s inconvenient or unsafe to answer the cell phone.