Speaking Point: Distracted driving has become an epidemic in this country. And it’s not simply our teenagers - millions of workers’ jobs require them to spend part or all of their work day driving, whether visiting clients and customers, making site visits, or making deliveries.
Speaking Point: “Texting while driving” kills 6,000 people a year and injures another 500,000. Thirty states now ban text messaging for all drivers. It is imperative that all fifty states need to ban texting while driving.
Speaking Point: These staggering numbers have made Oprah Winfrey fight for a national "No Phone Zone Day" and to make every car a "No Phone Zone." 500,000 individuals have taken the online pledge.
Speaking Point: It is ethically imperative that companies examine their policies and practices as they have a legal obligation to prohibit workplace hazards such as texting while driving. A company has both legal and ethical obligations to create and maintain a safe and healthful workplace, and including but not limited to having a clear, unequivocal and enforced policy against the hazard of texting while driving
Speaking Point: Why do employees text and drive? Because they may be afraid of losing a competitive edge and so use texting, e-mailing, or other business related mobile phone use while driving. But research has shown that the risks are minimal. An international engineering and project management company banned its North American workers from using their phones while driving in 2005. In a survey taken a year later, 95% of workers said their productivity had not been affected. Further, the quality of work done or communications made behind the wheel is often low.
Speaking Point: Employers must enforce the punishment for texting while driving during work hours. If caught driving while distracted, they will be fired. But they must relay an alternate plan - retrieve the messages when on a lunch break or after one arrives home. Employers should provide hands-free phones only, and inform employees that even they must be limited in use while driving.
Speaking Point: Legally, an employer can be held liable for the negligence of employees, agents and contractors under the common law doctrine of respondeat superior (Latin for "let the master answer"). It generally applies when an employee is acting within the scope of employment or for the benefit of an employer – for example, while on an errand that was assigned by the employer or that is part of the employee's general job duties. Employers cannot escape respondeat superior liability by simply labeling workers as independent contractors, rather than employees.
Speaking Point: In order for employers to minimize their liability, they must update their policies to specifically address texting while driving. Policies should generally bar employees altogether from texting while driving on company time, in connection with work-related purposes, or using employer-provided equipment.