While state legislatures argue to and fro over the merits of banning cellphone use while driving, corporations are quietly–and not so quietly, thanks to the press–eager to implement such regulations on their employees.
The reason is pure economics. Distracted-driving lawsuits are costing major business millions in settlement, higher if awarded by juries. One family, for example, was awarded over $21 million when a company employee didn’t react appropriately to slowing traffic and ultimately lead to the death of another driver. States lawyer Todd Clements, “People think there’s a good defense here by saying, ‘Everybody does it.’ Well, that’s not true, because the jury doesn’t want everyone to do it. They just want to do it themselves. It’s a huge disconnect.”
Cellphone and, increasingly, automotive infotainment technologies have increasingly made it easier for lawyers to track if the employee was using their cellphone at the time of an accident. Thus corporations like Chevron, DuPont, and UPS have banned cellphone use by employees. These bans are supported by studies which show drivers distracted by cellphone use were four times more likely to be involved in an accident than those not using their phones. (Note the article doesn’t mention if hands-free cellphone devices affect those figures.) Interestingly, 19 percent of the companies later surveyed by the National Safety Council said employee productively improved after the ban. A nice benefit, but dwarfed by the costs of accidents involving employees and consumers. Says Doug Ponster of Owens Corning, “But our position is, quite simply, that we don’t make safety decisions based on productivity.”
Automotive.com’s take: Does your company have such a ban? How do you feel about companies banning cellphone use during working hours? As always, let us know in the comments below.
Source: Washington Post