Taking work calls while driving is risky business for employers

It’s convenient to take business calls on the road, particularly for employees who travel a lot. Employees may think they can multitask, increase their availability, and get more done by taking calls en route to a customer or on the commute home.

That’s a natural attitude, but it’s a dangerous one — studies have found that drivers who use a cell phone have a similar impairment to drunk driving. And it can get your company into trouble.

A growing number of lawsuits are holding businesses accountable when their employees are involved in automobile crashes while using cell phones. Juries have awarded victims and their families upwards of $20 million in accidents linked to work-related cell phone use.

Employer liability 
If a person has an accident while on a business call, that person’s employer could be held liable. This is true whether or not the employee was using a work-issued phone. It’s also true if the employee is driving a personal car, to a personal function — if the call is tied to work, the employer could be targeted in a lawsuit.

That’s why many employers are implementing cell phone policies that either prohibit employees from using handheld cell phones while driving or ban them from taking any work-related calls at all.

To create or enhance a cell phone policy for your business, use these resources from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation. You’ll find a toolkit and sample distracted driving policies for employers, as well as similar resources for teens, parents, and educators.

Learn more about the dangers of distracted driving here.