Are Your Corporate Policies Up to Date?
If your employee is punching in a telephone number or raising their cell phone to their ear while driving, you might be liable. A growing number of states in the USA and several foreign countries are making it a crime to use a cell phone while driving unless one's cell phone operates "hands free" or has a "hands free" device.
On July 1, 2008 law enforcement officers in two more states, Washington and California, begin writing citations to drivers who do not comply with the "hands free" cell phone law that became effective on that day. In California, a ticket now costs a driver that violates the law $25 for the first offense and $50 for each violation thereafter. Drivers that are minors are prohibited entirely from using a cell phone or a "mobile device" while driving. What is your company's current, and written, policy on cell phone use while driving on the job?
States Adopting New Laws
If you travel outside of the United States, you will recognize a similar pattern. Twenty-five foreign countries have laws that restrict or completely ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Australia, Austria, Britain, Brazil, Chili, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Israel, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Turkey have taken action to restrict the use of cell phones in cars.
If your state or country does not restrict using a cell phone in cars, you can anticipate that soon they will.
The trend across civilized society is to consider hand-held cell phone use a driver distraction and a contributing cause of many accidents. Many states that have not enacted a "hands free" cell phone law have been gathering collision data where cell phone use was involved. It is reasonable that law makers will use this accumulated data to sell the need for a restriction or ban of hand-held cell phones in cars. Some states have declined to enact a restrictive use law, but have defined the use of cell phones in cars as a "careless driving"1 or defined the use of a cell phone while driving within the definition of "distraction."2
Higher Potential Liability
Generally the concept is referred to as negligence per se. Lawyers use the principle of negligence per se as a shortcut to establish liability in law suits to win damages for people injured in accidents.
The new wave of cell phone laws are safety laws designed to eliminate distractions and prevent accidents. Depending on the extent of the injuries, this financial risk to an employer could be very substantial. If the cited employee driver has violated the cell phone law before, significant punitive damages could be assessed against the employer. Negligence per se as a principle will be used more frequently in personal injury cases when a driver was using a cell phone.
Employee Handbook and
Copyright © Ralph G. Martinez and Ed Rigsbee 2010-2013
Ralph G. Martinez is an attorney and the principal of Martinez Law Group, Inc., a California business and real estate law firm. The members of the firm are transactional and trial attorneys, serving entrepreneurs and small business in the real estate, financial services and high tech industries. Mr. Martinez has been practicing law for 30 years. In addition to his state-wide network of clients, Ralph Martinez has represented individuals and businesses across the United States, Mexico, Canada, Central America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Mr. Martinez writes a blog to entrepreneurs and small businesses on the Internet through his website.
Ed Rigsbee, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) CAE (Certified Association Executive), has been fumbling, bumbling, and stumbling his way through the organizational mazes of for-profits and non-profits for over four decades. For the last two decades, Ed has been an observer, researcher, and teacher; helping organizations of all sizes to build successful internal and external collaborative relationships. Ed travels internationally to deliver keynote presentations and workshops on profitable alliance relationships. In addition to serving as the president of Rigsbee Research Consulting Group, Ed also serves as the executive director of a (501 c 3) public non-profit charity. Ed has authored three books and over 2,000 articles helping organizations to take full advantage of their potential. Contact Ed, get additional (no charge) resources, and sign up for his complimentary weekly Effective Executive Letter at www.Rigsbee.com.
|News To Help Dealers|
|People in the News|
|Graphics of the Americas|
|Graph Expo 14|