Distracted driving

Distracted endanger the driver, passengers and bystanders

The leading cause of worker fatalities year after year are motor vehicle accidents with distracted driving dramatically increasing the risk of such crashes. A major component of distraction is texting while driving.

Employers should prohibit any worker from texting while driving a motor vehicle. Employers who require their employees to text while driving or who organize work so that doing so is a practical necessity, violate the OSH Act.

There are other types of distractions that divert a person’s attention from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger the driver, passenger and bystander safety. These include:

  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting the radio, CD player or MP3 player

Texting is the worst distraction because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention. Educating employees, family and friends about the dangers of distracted driving is the
best way to end these dangers.

Employers have a responsibility to enforce a policy against texting while driving. A written policy should include the following items:

  • Employees may not use a hand-held cell phone while operating a vehicle even if the vehicle is stopped at a light. This includes, answering or making calls, engaging in conversation,
    reading or responding to emails and text messages.
  • If an employee needs to use their phone, they must safely pull over to the side of the road or another safe location.
  • Turn off phone or change to silent before starting the car.
  • Inform clients of your policy as an explanation of why calls may not be returned immediately.

You can enforce your policy by having the employee sign and acknowledge they have read and understand the terms.

Highlights

  • Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of worker fatality year after year.
  • Texting while driving is one of the worst distractions while driving because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention.
  • Other distractions include eating and drinking, reading maps and adjusting audio players.
  • Employers have a responsibility to enforce an policy against texting while driving.
The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.