Distracted driving on the clock

Employers whose workers use cellphones and other mobile devices while driving should take note that such behavior is more than a so-called “distraction.”  It’s also cause for serious liability, as a number of companies have learned after being hit with multi-million-dollar judgments resulting from lawsuits in which their employees’ use of mobile devices while driving were have found to have contributed to serious, sometimes fatal, accidents.

In a Q&A with The Oklahoman, McAfee & Taft labor and employment attorney Nathan Whatley said all employers – not just those whose employees drive as part of their jobs – should have clear cellphone usage policies in place, educate and train their employees on the policies and the dangers of texting or talking on a cellphone while driving, and then strictly enforce the policies.

“Clearly state that it’s against company rules to text, email or use a handheld phone or communication device while operating a company vehicle, driving a personal vehicle for business use, or using a company-issued communication device while driving,” he advised.  “Consider prohibiting the use of hands-free devices except in emergency situations.”

The best policies, Whatley said, go beyond what’s required by state and local laws.