Raising Awareness: Employer Liability for Distracted Driving

At EndDD.org, we regularly voice the dangers of work-related distracted driving. Joel and our volunteers encourage employers across the country to adopt safe driving policies for their companies, both for the safety of their teams and to reduce liability. In conjunction with Joel’s firm, Anapol Weiss, we developed a workplace safe driving policy to promote good habits among the attorneys and staff and motivate other businesses to do the same.

Our organization puts focus on our nation’s workplaces, because we know work-related distracted driving is a rampant problem that causes preventable crashes. In fact, an online survey conducted by Harris Poll for Travelers reported that about four in ten drivers admit to using a phone while driving – often because they feel pressure from their bosses to always be available.

The Harris Poll survey, featured in a Washington Post article in early December 2017, found that 43 percent of polled drivers stay in touch with work by talking on the phone, texting, or emailing. The article also notes that the American Association for Justice (AAJ) reminded employers of the liability doctrine that provides that employers are generally vicariously responsible for employees’ acts under certain circumstances, and that cases have been filed to expand liability to include distracted driving. The Post links to a 2017 article Joel published in Trial Magazine, called “The Landscape of Distracted Driving.”

Trial lawyers have a particularly strong position to promote change. As Joel notes in his article, “By representing families tragically impacted by preventable crashes, trial lawyers play a major role in raising awareness about the dangers of devices that visually and cognitively distract drivers.”

Businesses of all sizes can make a difference by adopting their own safe driving policies. Each employer can start by doing the following to end distracted driving:

  • Make a public commitment to safe driving. Consider publishing a press release and writing an article to promote others to do the same.
  • Download our sample cell phone policy and customize the content as needed.
  • Encourage employees to talk to their families about safe driving.
  • Raise awareness by scheduling an EndDD.org talk at work. Learn how to host a presentation.

If we all take responsibility to do our part – as individuals, employers, and community members – we can protect each other on the road and end our country’s distracted driving epidemic.