Monday, February 21, 2011

What's Your Policy Regarding Distracted Driving?

What?  You don't have one?  You're not even sure what "distracted driving" is?

Well, on the bright side, you're not alone.  On the other hand, that really isn't a bright side.  You need to stop what you're doing and take a few minutes to read about the U. S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Distracted Driving Initiative.  (Here)  The initiative actually went into effect in October 2010, but we're finding that a surprising number of employers are not aware of it. 

In a nutshell, OSHA has declared texting while driving to be a workplace hazard.  That may sound all well and good, but what it means is that employers now have a legal duty to address texting as a hazard.  That is, they must implement policies and procedures to prevent it, and they can be cited and fined for any violations.

While OSHA hasn't exactly set the world on fire with its enforcement efforts so far, the real threat comes from potential plaintiffs.  Let's assume that your business does not have a no-texting policy or doesn't enforce the one that it does have.  One of your employees, while driving on company business, is busy texting and runs a stop sign, hitting another car and injuring its driver.  The injured driver can use your lack of a company policy, or the fact that you didn't enforce any policy that you do have, as evidence that you -- that's you, the company, not just the employee who was driving -- were negligent and, therefore, are liable for monetary damages.

Save your organization some headaches and, potentially, a lot of money by implementing a distracted driving policy.  Heck, OSHA's website even gives you a sample policy to use, so you have no excuse not to do it today.

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