Doing Business On the Phone While Driving

Every month more and more cities and states prohibit the use of cell phones while driving, exposing drivers to penalties such as fines.

Did you know that in addition to breaking the law, using a cell phone doing your work while driving may also expose you and your company to a lawsuit if you are involved in a car accident?

Employees Doing Business on Cell Phones

An employer could possibly be legally responsible for a car accident caused by an employee if the employee was on a work-related call at the time of the accident. In such an accident, the injured person is more likely to sue the employer, rather than the employee-driver, because the employer typically has more money — “deeper pockets,” as lawyers say — to pay a settlement or lawsuit judgment. This is why growing numbers of employers prohibit employees from making or taking work-related calls while driving.

If your employees use cell phones — whether their own phones or phones issued by the company — for work, you should have a policy prohibiting them from doing so while driving. Even if your state doesn’t restrict cell phone use by drivers, studies have repeatedly shown that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. And, if an employee causes an accident while doing business on a cell phone, your company could be held liable for damages.

What Your Company Policy Should Include

Your policy on employee use of cell phones should:

  • prohibit employees from using cell phones while driving
  • tell employees what to do if they receive a call while driving (for example, ask the caller to wait until the employee can pull over or tell the caller that the employee will call back), and
  • address hands-free technology. For example, if your company will allow employees to use hands-free technology while driving, you should issue them hands-free equipment.
  • You should also explain that safety remains a concern: Employees should keep all calls while driving brief, and should end any call that distracts them from the road.

Below is a Sample Policy that a business can post to bind employees to a code of behavior regarding their cell phone usage while driving during work hours. You can expand the policy language to include additional scenarios relevant to your company’s situation, such as volunteers, drivers transporting people on behalf of your business, driving on company property, etc.

Although you may choose to edit the enforcement and disciplinary terms, the inclusion of specific terms strengthens compliance with a policy. If this policy is in effect, and your employees are warned in advance, those actions may very well help immunize your company from a successful lawsuit as a result of an auto accident involving the use of a cell phone.

The _____________ Company Cell Phone Policy While Driving During Work

We deeply value the safety and well-being of all employees. Due to the increasing number of accidents resulting from the use of cell phones while driving, we are instituting a new policy.

Employees are not permitted to use a cell phone (both company and a privately owned) either handheld or hands- free, while operating a motor vehicle on company business and/or on operating a motor vehicle on company time.

Employees are not permitted to read or respond to e-mails or text messages while operating a motor vehicle on company business and/or while operating a vehicle on company time.

This policy also applies to use of PDAs.

While driving, calls cannot be answered and must be directed to voice mail.

If an employee must make an emergency call (911), the vehicle should first be parked in a safe location.

Employees will be given two warnings. The third time an employee is found to be in violation of this policy, it is grounds for immediate dismissal.

Your signature below certifies your agreement to comply with this policy.

 ________________________________ Employee Signature

 _________________ Signature Date