Texting While Driving Can Leads to Big Corporate Liability

Nick Fishman

I just read an interesting article in Workforce Management magazine which dealt with the dangers of texting (or emailing, or web surfing) while driving.

Raise your hand if you’re guilty.  I know I am and I know how stupid it is.

You want to know how big the problem is? Check out the following stats from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

  • A 2009 Institute telephone survey of 1,219 drivers 18 and older indicates phone use may be somewhat lower than government estimates. Drivers on average reported spending about an hour in the car each day, with about 4 minutes of that time on the phone.
  • A 2009 Institute survey found that 13 percent of drivers of all ages have texted while driving, and this jumps to 43 percent among 18-24-year-old drivers.
  • An Institute study found that among 18-24 year-olds — the group most likely to text — 45 percent reported texting while driving in states that bar the practice, just shy of the 48 percent of drivers who reported texting in states without bans.

Now here’s a snippet from the Workforce article which demands your attention.

“In one of the largest verdicts of its kind, a jury in 2001 awarded $21 million against Dyke Industries Inc., an Arkansas lumber company finding it liable for an accident caused by a salesman who was talking on his cellphone while driving to a sales appointment.”

As a result, many companies are drafting policies which prohibit the use of hand held cell phone use and texting while driving.  But here’s something else they can do.  There are many company’s that will check their job applicant’s driving record as part of an employment background check and will continue to do so throughout the tenure of their employment.  Most are interested in things like excessive speeding tickets, reckless driving, etc.  However, now it would also make sense to treat violations of hand held phone use and texting while driving laws as important offenses rather than a trivial dust up with the law.

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
Nick Fishman
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