Distracted driving impacts everyone. One sector that has not received much attention, but should, is that of local businesses. Businesses are just as affected by distracted driving – whether it is their own employees or those sharing the road with their employees. Driving presents a significant risk already for risk of injury and property damage. When driving distracted, these risks increase exponentially. What some businesses may not realize is how distracted driving also impacts their bottom line.
Distracted driving increases the likelihood of motor vehicle crashes. That is because driving is a visual task and non-driving activities will take a driver’s attention and view away from the road – therefore, these actions must be avoided.
How Businesses are Impacted
When businesses violate any FMCSA bans, they can face substantial fines – up to $2750 for their drivers and up to $11,000 themselves if they required their drivers to text or use phones while driving. Some states may have limits below these levels, but for states without regulations, the federal regulations will take over.
Employers and their drivers are responsible for knowing and complying with all federal and state safety regulations. Employers must demonstrate that they have shown their drivers how to operate vehicles safely. If they do not have one in place already, they should establish a written formal policy that addresses all texting and talking while driving – and they should require all employees to sign a consent proving that they intend to follow such policies.
Some businesses have already gone well beyond the minimum standard and implemented their own total ban on use of any mobile device while driving. But others are concerned with their bottom line.
Weighing the Risks of Distracted Driving
The new federal regulations put strain on some business owners, especially when companies are not aware of their risks. When their employees start driving a vehicle for work-related tasks – even if it is not a commercial vehicle – those employees are now driving a work-related vehicle. The vehicle does not have to be owned by the company or even financed by them. If it is being used for work-related tasks and the driver is distracted, the employer could become liable for injuries.
Drivers that are involved in an accident that violates federal or state laws put employers at risk, well beyond the typical fines. Employers have liabilities and when plaintiffs see that an employee was using their phone and car for work-related tasks, they now have a reason to sue the employer just as much as the employee.
For employers that need their drivers or employees in constant contact, they must implement procedures for how those employees will remain in contact without engaging in distracted driving. While this may cost more, it could save an employer thousands to millions of dollars in potential litigation and settlement costs.
Were You Injured by a Distracted Driver?
Distracted drivers are reckless drivers. Anyone who chooses to operate a vehicle while distracted must be held accountable for the injuries and damage they cause. Contact attorney Douglas Horn at Horn Law today regarding your injuries. We offer no obligation consultations, so schedule your appointment at 816-795-7500 or fill out an online contact form.