It’s a fair question. In the U.S., ten states now prohibit such conduct. Another 34 states prohibit texting while driving. The Department of Labor has likewise made its position clear: companies will be held responsible for cell-phone related accidents caused by their employees. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) announced last spring that as part of its Distracted Driving Initiative, it will rely on the general duty clause to issue citations to employers who permit distracted driving.
So what are employers doing in response?
Surprisingly, very little. Truth be told, few employers have policies that outright ban employee-drivers from using cell phones. While most employers expect employees to follow state and federal laws, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality continues to prevail on the road.
What’s stopping employers from taking the keys away (or at least the cell phones away) from distracted drivers? Perhaps it’s a culture of multi-tasking. Overworked employees continue to demand flexibility and personal freedom. Besides, most employers are tired of lawyers telling them to implement yet another policy.
But wait. Can you really afford to stand by and do nothing? Or put another way – if distracted drivers are known to increase the risk of accidents by as much as 50%, why wait until your employees become another statistic?