USA Today Highlights Corporate Response to Distracted Driving
In a story in support of April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, USA Today reported that many businesses are concerned about liability issues in the face of new laws and the impact of distraction-related crashes on their bottom line and are beginning to develop policies for their fleet drivers.
The new federal law which prohibits commercial vehicle operators from using handheld cell phones while driving went into effect on January 3, 2012. It affects about 4 million truck and bus drivers, plus tens of millions of other fleet drivers. Drivers who violate this law face fines of $2,750 for each offense and loss of their commercial operator’s license for multiple violations. Companies that require or allow drivers to use handheld phones while driving face a maximum penalty of $11,000.
The article quotes an official with Travelers Insurance Company, the nation’s largest commercial vehicle insurer, who opines that the new law does put the onus on business owners. Another insurance broker was quoted as stating that if you’re talking on the cell phone while driving for work (and cause a crash), it probably increases the company’s liability and the best practice for many fleets is to have some form of distracted-driving policy.
In response to this danger, USA Today notes that companies such as Los Angeles-based Reliance Steel & Aluminum, the nation’s largest metal service company with 1,800 trucks on the road daily, have implemented a distracted-driving policy as follows “Our drivers are not allowed to use any kind of electronic communication device while driving. That’s CB, cell phone, text. It cannot be used, period, unless the vehicle is safely and legally parked.”
Enbridge Energy Partners, an energy transportation company specializing in liquid petroleum, recently updated and consolidated various policies it has had since the advent of cell phones as follows: “You’re not to do company business via cell phone, even in your own vehicle,”
Todd Clement applauds companies like Reliance and Enbridge. They “get it” and are doing their part to keep the public and their drivers safer.