Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cell Phones on the Road: Banned for Some, Dangerous for All

Cell phones, smart phones and texting make our lives easier. But this convenience is one of the leading causes of vehicle accidents today, and it doesn’t have to be. On Jan. 3, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a ban prohibiting truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating vehicles. Learn more about the regulations and consequences on theFMCSA website. Even if you are not in the transportation business, it’s important to work toward preventing distracted driving accidents.
Take a stand, develop a policyDistracted driving affects every industry, and the only way to prevent it is to face it head on. All company drivers, not just drivers of commercial vehicles, put themselves, other drivers and their employers at risk when they text or use cell phones while driving. Missouri Employers Mutual recommends that all employers develop and enforce a cell phones and driving policy.
An effective distracted driving policy should:
  • apply to all employees driving for company business.
  • clearly state that using smart or cell phones is prohibited while the vehicle is in motion.
  • be reviewed annually with each employee and documented.
Employers that contribute to and condone distracted driving open the company to liability. OSHA investigates vehicle crashes that are caused by texting and fines employers under the General Duty Clause. It’s not difficult to determine if a cell phone contributed to an accident because phone records are subject to discovery and can be used against an employer in a criminal and/or civil court. Data logs can prove that a driver was distracted and that the accident was preventable.
Support the policyEmployers can support their employees in smart driving by asking them not to multitask while behind the wheel. Make sure you encourage your employees to stop and check messages, return calls, eat or refresh before asking them to get back on the road. Don’t exacerbate the problem by requiring employees to take phone calls from dispatchers or the office while driving.
Learn more about keeping your employees and everyone else safe on the road at WorkSAFE Center.

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